CZAAWE Resource Article

Measures of weight distribution of dairy cows to detect lameness and the presence of hoof lesions
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Dairy Science
There is increasing interest in automated methods of detecting lame cows. Hoof lesion data and measures of weight distribution from 61 lactating cows were examined in this study. Lame cows were identified with different numerical rating scores (NRS) used as thresholds (NRS >3 and NRS ≥3.5) for lameness. The ratio of weight applied to a pair of legs (LWR) when the cow was standing was calculated using a special weigh scale, and the cows were gait scored using a 1 to 5 NRS. Hoof lesions were scored and the cows placed into 1 of 4 mutually exclusive categories of hoof lesion: a) no lesions, b) moderate or severe hemorrhages, c) digital dermatitis, and d) sole ulcers. Regression analysis and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to analyze the relation between hoof lesions and LWR. A clear relationship was found between NRS and LWR for the cows with sole ulcers (R2 = 0.79). The LWR could differentiate cows with sole ulcers from sound cows with no hoof lesions [area under the curve (AUC) = 0.87] and lame cows from nonlame cows with lameness thresholds NRS >3 (AUC = 0.71) and NRS ≥3.5 (AUC = 0.88). There was no relationship between LWR and NRS for cows with digital dermatitis. Measurement of how cows distribute their weight when standing holds promise as a method of automated detection of lameness.