Using the Footfall Sound of Dairy Cows for Detecting Claw Lesions
Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Animal Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, 30173 Hannover, Germany
Section of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, University of Kassel, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 1 March 2019
Claw lesions affect the health and well-being of dairy cows and are the third most frequent reason for culling. The most common method to identify cows affected by claw lesions is the assessment of locomotion. However, this requires apart from a trained observer a lot of time. And time is an important limiting factor especially with increasing herd sizes. Thus, regarding the detection of claw lesions, a sensor-assisted, automated system to be implemented on farms should be developed. This system analyzes the footfall sound of cows to distinguish lame from non-lame animals. Using a runway with sensors for recording the footfall sound, we found that cows with non-infectious diseases such as sole ulcers showed a less forceful gait pattern than healthy ones. It is known that particular cows with non-infectious diseases have a greater sensitivity to pain. Therefore the established system is capable of selecting cows that take more cautious steps. This character of abnormal gait pattern is in turn a sign of lameness. Therefore, the automated system as developed in this study is a promising tool for detecting lameness in dairy cows on farms.