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Animals 2015, 5(3), 838-860; doi:10.3390/ani5030387

Lameness Detection in Dairy Cows: Part 1. How to Distinguish between Non-Lame and Lame Cows Based on Differences in Locomotion or Behavior

1
Technology and Food Science Unit–Precision Livestock Farming
2
INRA, UMR 791 Systemic Modelling of Ruminant Nutrition, 16 rue Claude Bernard, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France
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AgroParisTech, UMR 791 Systemic Modelling of Ruminant Nutrition, 16 rue Claude Bernard, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France
4
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Green Technology, Koetilantie 5, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
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Animal Sciences Unit, The Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO), Scheldeweg 68, 9090 Melle, Belgium
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Department of Biosystems Engineering, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium
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Division Mechatronics, Biostatistics and Sensors (MeBioS), Department of Biosystems, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 30 bus 2456, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jon Huxley
Received: 29 May 2015 / Revised: 17 August 2015 / Accepted: 18 August 2015 / Published: 28 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Cow Mobility and Lameness)
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Simple Summary

Scoring cattle for lameness based on changes in locomotion or behavior is essential for farmers to find and treat their lame animals. This review discusses the normal locomotion of cows in order to define abnormal locomotion due to lameness. It furthermore provides an overview of various relevant visual locomotion scoring systems that are currently being used as well as practical considerations when assessing lameness on a commercial farm.

Abstract

Due to its detrimental effect on cow welfare, health and production, lameness in dairy cows has received quite a lot of attention in the last few decades—not only in terms of prevention and treatment of lameness but also in terms of detection, as early treatment might decrease the number of severely lame cows in the herds as well as decrease the direct and indirect costs associated with lameness cases. Generally, lame cows are detected by the herdsman, hoof trimmer or veterinarian based on abnormal locomotion, abnormal behavior or the presence of hoof lesions during routine trimming. In the scientific literature, several guidelines are proposed to detect lame cows based on visual interpretation of the locomotion of individual cows (i.e., locomotion scoring systems). Researchers and the industry have focused on automating such observations to support the farmer in finding the lame cows in their herds, but until now, such automated systems have rarely been used in commercial herds. This review starts with the description of normal locomotion of cows in order to define ‘abnormal’ locomotion caused by lameness. Cow locomotion (gait and posture) and behavioral features that change when a cow becomes lame are described and linked to the existing visual scoring systems. In addition, the lack of information of normal cow gait and a clear description of ‘abnormal’ gait are discussed. Finally, the different set-ups used during locomotion scoring and their influence on the resulting locomotion scores are evaluated. View Full-Text
Keywords: lameness; dairy cattle; cow gait; behavior; visual locomotion scoring lameness; dairy cattle; cow gait; behavior; visual locomotion scoring
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Van Nuffel, A.; Zwertvaegher, I.; Pluym, L.; Van Weyenberg, S.; Thorup, V.M.; Pastell, M.; Sonck, B.; Saeys, W. Lameness Detection in Dairy Cows: Part 1. How to Distinguish between Non-Lame and Lame Cows Based on Differences in Locomotion or Behavior. Animals 2015, 5, 838-860.

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