The Healthy Feet Project - Working together to reduce cattle lameness

The aim of the Healthy Feet Project is simple; they want to help reduce lameness in dairy cattle on UK farms and encourage farmers, vets and advisors to work together. This website provides information and tools for people who are keen to reduce lameness in dairy cows.

Update August 24, 2011: The healthy feet project's web site is not accessible anymore, and some of the information has been moved to DairyCo's web site. The links below might therefore not work.


The Healthy Feet Project web site, run from the University of Bristol's Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, provides information and tools to understand the scale of a lameness problem, the common risks and types of lameness , but also actions that need to be taken to avoid them.

How big is the lameness problem?

The best way to get a true indication of the scale of the problem on a farm is to mobility score the whole herd or at least the milking herd. It is also important that mobility scoring is used so lame cows can be identified sooner and treated quicker. Tools for mobility scoring and videos to practise the scoring are available at teh web site.

What are the common risks for lameness on dairy farms? (What is causing the problem?)

Due to the many different causes of lameness there are no straight forward, quick fix solutions for all farms. This is why it is important to assess every farm individually and carry out a risk assessment to discover the root causes of lameness on each farm. Risk assessment on-line and assessment forms available.

What types of foot problems cause lameness?

It is important to record the problems you find when treating your cows’ feet (lesions). This helps you to know: How big the lameness problem is and where to start tackling the problem

  • If you are unsure on the differences between lesions please look at the lesion atlas which illustrates the most common lesions found on dairy cattle feet.
  • On the project the most common lesions found on farm are Sole Ulcers, White Line Disorders, Digital Dermatitis and Foul in the Foot and the links on the web site provide further information on these individual problems.
  • Remember, simply looking at the number of cows treated is only accurate if you are sure you are treating every lame cow. For a complete picture you need to Mobility Score the herd.

It is useful to understand the structure of a cow’s foot, and what can go wrong and cause problems.

Taking action

When tackling lameness you need to combine prompt treatment of existing cases and prevention of future cases of lameness.

By following the links below you can begin to work out how to tackle your lameness problems. The sections are split into manageable areas that you can tackle depending on where your own problems lie.


The surfaces upon which cows walk have a huge bearing on the health of their feet. Uneven floor surfaces can cause physical trauma to the claw horn. Twisting and turning movements on uneven surfaces may lead to separation of the white line. 

Walking and standing surfaces and cow flow

Increasing lying times & reducing standing times

Effective foot bathing

Increased hygiene


The Healthy Feet Project web site also contains links to further resources about assessing, monitoring or tackling a lameness problem in dairy cows.