To explore how hoof pathologies affect dairy cattle gait, we studied cows with sole hemorrhages (n = 14), sole ulcers (n = 7), and those with no visible injuries (n = 17). Overall gait assessments, scored from video using a 1 to 5 numerical rating system (1 = sound, 5 = severely lame) and a continuous 100-unit visual analog scale, found cows having sole ulcers had poorer gait than healthy cows (mean +/- SEM: 4.0 +/- 0.13 vs. 3.1 +/- 0.08, and 59 +/- 3 vs. 46 +/- 2, respectively). Six gait attributes (back arch, head bob, tracking-up, joint flexion, asymmetric gait, and reluctance to bear weight) were also assessed using continuous 100-unit scales. Compared with healthy cows, those having sole ulcers walked with a more pronounced back arch (12 +/- 3 vs. 28 +/- 4), more jerky head movement (2 +/- 2 vs. 10 +/- 3), shortened strides (7 +/- 2 vs. 26 +/- 4), and more uneven weighting among the limbs (16 +/- 2 vs. 32 +/- 3). Of all measures, the numerical rating system most effectively discriminated healthy cows from those with sole ulcers (R2 = 0.73), classifying 92% of animals correctly. No differences were detected among cows with and without sole hemorrhages. Intra- and interobserver reliabilities were reasonable for all measures (R2 > or = 0.64) except joint flexion and asymmetric gait. In summary, subjective assessments of dairy cattle gait provide valid and reliable approaches to identifying cattle with sole ulcers.
Animals are routinely subjected to painful procedures, such as tail docking for puppies, castration for piglets, dehorning for dairy calves, and surgery for laboratory rats. Disease and injury, such as tumours in mice and sole ulcers on the feet of dairy cows, may also cause pain. In this paper we describe some of the ways in which the pain that animals experience can be recognized and quantified. We also describe ways in which pain can be avoided or reduced, by reconsidering how procedures are performed and whether they are actually required. Ultimately, reducing the pain that animals experience will require scientific innovation paired with changed cultural values, and willingness to address regulatory, technological and economic constraints.
To explore how hoof pathologies affect the gait of dairy cattle, we studied gait profiles of cows with no visible injuries (n = 17), sole lesions (n = 14), and sole ulcers (n = 7). Video recordings of dairy cows were digitized using motion analysis software to calculate 6 stride variables for each hoof. Compared with cows with sole ulcers, healthy cows walked faster (1.11 +/- 0.03 vs. 0.90 +/- 0.05 m/s, mean +/- SEM), had shorter stride durations (1.26 +/- 0.03 vs. 1.48 +/- 0.05 s), and longer strides (139.5 +/- 2.1 vs. 130.0 +/- 3.2 cm). Percentage of triple support in the gait cycle (time when cattle were supported by 3 legs) more than doubled for cows with sole ulcers compared with healthy cows (42 vs. 18%). Gait differences were likely due to cows reducing the load on an affected leg. Few differences were detected between healthy cows and those with sole lesions, perhaps because of variation in number, severity, and location of injuries. Kinematic gait analysis is a promising approach in understanding how hoof pathologies affect dairy cow gait.
We studied dairy cows (n = 30) walking on concrete and on a soft, high-friction composite rubber surface to examine how flooring influenced gait and how this differed for cows with hoof lesions. Cows had hooves trimmed 9 wk after the trial and were classified as either with or without sole ulcers. Video recordings of the cows while walking were digitized using motion analysis software to calculate stride variables (length, height, overlap, duration, proportion of triple support, and speed). Gait was scored by a subjective scoring system (1 = sound to 5 = severely lame) and by a continuous visual analog scale for each of 7 gait attributes. Cows with sole ulcers walking on a composite rubber surface had longer strides (156.9 +/- 2.6 vs. 149.6 +/- 2.6 cm), higher stride heights (9.7 +/- 0.3 vs. 8.8 +/- 0.3 cm), more stride overlap (0.4 +/- 2.0 vs. -4.3 +/- 2.0 cm), shorter periods of triple support (3 legs in ground contact; 68.6 +/- 2.0 vs. 73.8 +/- 2.0%), walked faster (1.22 +/- 0.04 vs. 1.17 +/- 0.04 m/s) and had lower overall gait scores (2.9 +/- 0.1 vs. 3.1 +/- 0.1), better tracking-up (19 +/- 2 vs. 24 +/- 2), better joint flexion (29 +/- 2 vs. 33 +/- 2), more symmetric steps (31 +/- 3 vs. 36 +/- 3), and less reluctance to bear weight on their legs (12 +/- 2 vs. 16 +/- 2) compared with walking on concrete. Similar results were found for cows without sole ulcers. Most of the subjective gait measures could distinguish between cows with and without sole ulcers, but this was not the case for kinematic measures other than stride height. Cows with higher gait scores (more severe lameness) showed the greatest improvement in stride length (r = -0.51), triple support (r = 0.59), swing duration (r = -0.44), overall gait score (r = 0.46), and reluctance to bear weight (r = 0.66) when walking on the rubber surface compared with cows with lower gait scores. These results indicate that rubber flooring provides a more secure footing and is more comfortable to walk on, especially for lame cattle.
Lameness is one of the most important dairy cow welfare issues and has inspired a growing body of literature on gait assessment. Validation studies have shown that several methods of gait assessment are able to successfully distinguish cows with and without painful pathologies. While subjective methods provide an immediate, on-site assessment and require no technical equipment, they show variation in observer reliability. On the other hand, objective methods of gait assessment provide accurate and reliable data, but typically require sophisticated technology, limiting their use on farms. In this critical review, we evaluate gait assessment methods, discuss the reliability and validity of measures used to date, and point to areas where new research is needed. We show how gait can be affected by hoof and leg pathologies, treatment of these ailments and the pain associated with lameness. We also discuss how cow (e.g. conformation, size and udder fill) and environmental features (e.g. flooring) contribute to variation in the way cows walk. An understanding of all these factors is important to avoid misclassifying of cows and confounding comparisons between herds.
We studied cows with (n = 6) and without (n = 26) sole ulcers before and after milking to explore how milking influences dairy cattle gait and how this differs for cows with hoof injuries. Video recordings of cows were digitized using motion-analysis software to calculate stride variables for each hoof. Gait was scored using a 1-to-5 numerical rating system (1 = sound, 5 = severely lame) and a continuous 100-unit visual analog scale of gait attributes (back arch, head bob, tracking-up, and reluctance to bear weight). For cows with and without sole ulcers, differences in gait before and after milking were evident; after milking, all cows had significantly longer strides (123.3 vs. 133.5 +/- 2.0 cm, respectively), higher stride height (8.3 vs. 8.9 +/- 0.1 cm), shorter stride durations (1.49 vs. 1.41 +/- 0.03 s), walked faster (0.85 vs. 0.97 +/- 0.03 m/s), and had shorter periods of triple support (3 legs in ground contact; 80.0 vs. 71.7 +/- 2.0%). Tracking-up and reluctance to bear weight improved after milking (20 vs. 16 +/- 2; 20 vs. 15 +/- 1, respectively), but numerical rating scores and back arch did not. Cows with sole ulcers walked differently than cows without for all measures, except swing duration, both before and after milking. Interactions between hoof health and milking were found for swing duration and head bob but when tested separately, the only effect was that cows without sole ulcers had longer swing durations before milking (0.45 vs. 0.44 +/- 0.01 s, respectively). Gait differences were probably due to udder distention and motivation to return to the home pen. Our results suggest that the most suitable time to assess lameness is after milking when differences between cows with and without ulcers are most evident.
The objective of this experiment was to study the effect of rubber flooring in front of the feed bunk on the immediate behavioral response of dairy cattle. Four groups of 12 dairy cattle were alternately housed in sections of a free-stall barn with either 1.85 m of rubber flooring or grooved concrete in the area in front of the feed bunk. Rubber flooring did not affect time spent eating. However, animals showed a slight, but detectable, increase in time standing without eating on the rubber surface (5.5%) compared with concrete (4.8%). For reasons that are unclear, this increase in time spent standing was not limited to the area in front of the feed bunk; animals spent 11.0% of the available time standing elsewhere in the pen (outside of the free stall but not in front of the feed bunk) when they had access to the rubber flooring, compared with 9.0% when housed with access to only concrete floors. In addition, animals spent slightly less time lying in the free stall when they had access to rubber in front of the feed bunk (52.5 vs. 54.3%). Time spent engaged in behaviors such as standing elsewhere in the pen and eating were variable over time. For example, time spent eating declined from 23.1 to 17.4% over the 6-wk trial. In conclusion, dairy cattle with access to rubber flooring in front of the feeder showed small differences in where and how much time they spent standing, although the biological implications of these small changes are unclear.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
334 Leonard St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Copyright © 2023 scite LLC. All rights reserved.
Made with 💙 for researchers
Part of the Research Solutions Family.