Until recently, there was no systematic approach to identifying and managing lameness across the beef industry. To address this gap, Zinpro Corporation – in conjunction with the Beef Cattle Institute and Kansas State University – developed the Step-Up Management Program.

Step up

Step-Up is designed to provide cattle producers comprehensive resources to identify, diagnose and treat lameness, as well as to help beef operations decrease the prevalence of lameness among cattle.

A cornerstone of the program is the introduction of a new four-point locomotion scoring system specifically developed for beef cattle. Locomotion scoring is based on the observation of cattle walking (gait), with emphasis on head movement (bob), stride length and symmetry.

The system uses a simple 0 to 3 scale to assess the severity of lameness in beef cattle (0 = normal; 1 = mild lameness; 2 = moderate lameness; 3 = severe lameness).

The critical aspect about this locomotion scoring system is that it’s a simple and effective way to identify cattle that need to be evaluated for treatment of lameness.


The system helps train animal-care personnel to visually assess locomotion in order to determine the prevalence and severity of lameness, and then assign cattle to different categories for treatment.

Specifically, the locomotion scoring system allows us to identify cases of mild to moderate lameness where there is an opportunity to have an intervention.

Ideally, animals in categories 1 and 2 can be treated, preventing them from becoming a category 3 (severe). Also, when lameness is recognized early, the success rate of treatment is higher, and it is easier to mitigate the pain the animal is experiencing.

The scoring system can be applied throughout the entire beef cattle production system, providing the industry with a consistent way to assess and talk about lameness. Locomotion scoring is intuitive and easy to learn and implement, and it is effective for:

  • Early detection of claw (hoof) and limb disorders
  • Monitoring prevalence of lameness
  • Comparing the incidence and severity of lameness between groups
  • Identifying individual animals for treatment

How we handle and manage cattle, and address issues such as lameness at all stages of production, underscores that we are doing what we can to identify and correct situations that compromise animal well-being.

The program addresses this by providing tools for beef producers, veterinarians and nutritionists to improve the well-being of beef cattle and elevate beef cattle lameness management throughout the industry.  end mark

To learn more about locomotion scoring beef cattle, visit the Step-Up video library.