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Analysis of behavioral changes in dairy cows associated with claw horn lesions

By Kathrin Nechanitzky, A Starke, Beatriz Vidondo Curras, H Müller, M Reckardt, K Friedli and Adrian Steiner


Detecting lame cows is important in improving animal welfare. Automated tools are potentially useful to enable identification and monitoring of lame cows. The goals of this study were to evaluate the suitability of various physiological and behavioral parameters to automatically detect lameness in dairy cows housed in a cubicle barn. Lame cows suffering from a claw horn lesion (sole ulcer or white line disease) of one claw of the same hind limb (n=32; group L) and 10 nonlame healthy cows (group C) were included in this study. Lying and standing behavior at night by tridimensional accelerometers, weight distribution between hind limbs by the 4-scale weighing platform, feeding behavior at night by the nose band sensor, and heart activity by the Polar device (Polar Electro Oy, Kempele, Finland) were assessed. Either the entire data set or parts of the data collected over a 48-h period were used for statistical analysis, depending upon the parameter in question. The standing time at night over 12 h and the limb weight ratio (LWR) were significantly higher in group C as compared with group L, whereas the lying time at night over 12 h, the mean limb difference (△weight), and the standard deviation (SD) of the weight applied on the limb taking less weight were significantly lower in group C as compared with group L. No significant difference was noted between the groups for the parameters of heart activity and feeding behavior at night. The locomotion score of cows in group L was positively correlated with the lying time and △weight, whereas it was negatively correlated with LWR and SD. The highest sensitivity (0.97) for lameness detection was found for the parameter SD [specificity of 0.80 and an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.84]. The highest specificity (0.90) for lameness detection was present for Δweight (sensitivity=0.78; AUC=0.88) and LWR (sensitivity=0.81; AUC=0.87). The model considering the data of SD together with lying time at night was the best predictor of cows being lame, accounting for 40% of the variation in the likelihood of a cow being lame (sensitivity=0.94; specificity=0.80; AUC=0.86). In conclusion, the data derived from the 4-scale-weighing platform, either alone or combined with the lying time at night over 12 h, represent the most valuable parameters for automated identification of lame cows suffering from a claw horn lesion of one individual hind limb

Topics: 630 Agriculture, 310 Statistics, 570 Life sciences; biology
Publisher: American Dairy Science Association
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.3168/jds.2015-10109
OAI identifier: oai:boris.unibe.ch:80910

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