Studies showed an average of 55 per cent of cattle were going lame each year and levels were rising.
Some farmers were accused of not taking the problem seriously - leaving cattle in pain and distress even though lameness led to reduced yields.
The report by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, an independent body of farming experts, blamed intensive farming methods and poor management.
Too many animals were being housed in inadequate cubicles or forced to stand in slurry, wet straw or were walked along poor tracks causing foot and leg problems.
The report laid before agriculture ministers said: "Lameness is almost always a painful condition and it interferes with accountability to interact fully with her environment, especially her social environment, hence it is a major animal welfare issue. There are many farms where lameness is causing unnecessary pain and distress."Reuse content