Research on the effect of Lely Meteor on digital dermatitis

Hoof health can have a significant impact on cow behavior due to pain and discomfort and is one of the main culling reasons for dairy cows. During the last national Cattle Lameness Conference in the UK, Lely presented a study* about Lely Meteor and its effect on digital dermatitis (DD) for milking cows.

Management, Cow health


One of the major outcomes of the various presentations and posters during the conference was the fact that other non-Lely experts agreed and emphasized the fact that neither single spraying nor a single foot bath have a big effect. A total approach is required in order to reduce digital dermatitis. 

The Lely Meteor approach focuses on both the reduction and prevention of infectious hoof diseases. See Figure 1 for the three aspects involved.

Figure 1

Material and method

Research performed by Lely Farm Management Support demonstrates the effect of Lely Meteor on digital dermatitis (DD) for milking cows by showing:
1)    the effect of hoof treatment in the treatment box;
2)    the effect of the total approach over time.

Cows were trimmed and lesions were scored according to the Digiklauw scoring system (digital dermatitis lesion score 1: <2 cm; score 2: 2 cm - 4 cm; score 3: >4 cm). These were treated with the Lely Meteor balm and bandages were applied. Lesions that were not cured received repeat treatments until successful. Treatment was implemented according to a zero-tolerance strategy: all lesions were treated and registered. A difference in proportions test (R 3.2.4, R Core Team (2016), Austria) was used to determine whether the percentage of milking cows with digital dermatitis decreased.


Cows were trimmed and lesions were scored according to the Digiklauw scoring system.
Treatment was implemented according to a zero-tolerance strategy with the Lely Meteor balm and bandages were applied. A large improvement was observed (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Treatment resulted in a 40% reduction in the first week, with all lesions cured within a month (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 Average lesions score, percentage of digital dermatitis treated hooves (n=99 milking cows from one farm). The proportion is significantly different (P<0.05) between measurements.

Critical success factors

Success in hoof health is closely related to the following:
•    Teamwork with the hoof trimmer and veterinarian. It is important for hoof trimmers to be qualified and trained in this new way of working. Lely Meteor requires more than ‘just’ trimming. A zero-tolerance strategy has to be applied in combination with registration of all lesions.
•    A hygienic barn environment. Animals with a good score for feed and leg conformation live around 1.6 years longer, with 0.9 extra lactations, compared to animals with a poor grade (Richardson and Edwards, 2017). In relation to general cow health - low body condition vs. thin digital cushion (sole ulcer, sole hemorrhage) - low body condition, five times more risk of being lame (Newsome, 2017). Antibiotic foot bathing - illegal use of high doses is not effective for curing. Furthermore, this is expected to create a risk of spreading the bacteria to the udder.
•    The motivation of the farmer/farm workers and the work environment. Ensure a good view of the hooves during trimming: proper light, clean the hoof with water and use pliers. Go for a blitz treatment – treat all animals at the same time to reduce the infectious pressure.
•    Last but not least, pay attention to young stock and dry cows.


The Lely Meteor approach has a significant effect on curing digital dermatitis lesions and can control the long-term effects on hoof health. The approach is an effective solution on dairy farms with automatic milking systems, keeping in mind the multifactorial approach.

Lely Farm Management Support