Association of abnormal hind-limb postures and back arch with gait abnormality in dairy cattle.

TitleAssociation of abnormal hind-limb postures and back arch with gait abnormality in dairy cattle.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHoffman AC, Moore DA, Vanegas JA, Wenz JR
JournalJournal of dairy science
Date Published2014 Apr

Detection of lameness in individual cows is important for the prompt treatment of this painful and production-limiting disease. Current methods for lameness detection involve watching cows walk for several strides. If clinical signs predictive of lameness could be observed more conveniently, as cows are undergoing regularly scheduled examinations while standing, detection levels could increase. The objective of this study was to assess the association between postures observed while cows are standing in stanchions and clinical lameness evaluated by locomotion scoring, and to evaluate the observation of these postures as a test for lameness. The study included 1,243 cows from 4 farms. Cows were observed while standing in stanchions for regularly scheduled management procedures and the presence of arched back and cow-hocked, wide-stance, and favored-limb postures were recorded. The same cows were locomotion-scored as they exited the milking parlor. The proportion of cows observed with arched back and cow-hocked and favored-limb postures increased with increasing severity of lameness (higher locomotion score) but did not increase for the wide-stance posture. For the presence of these postures as a test for lameness (locomotion score ≥3), sensitivity and specificity were 0.63 and 0.64 for back arch, 0.54 and 0.57 for cow hocks, and 0.05 and 0.98 for favored limb. Back-arched, cow-hocked, and favored limb postures were associated with lameness but were not highly sensitive or specific as diagnostic tests. However, observation of back arch may be useful to identify cows needing further examination.

Alternate JournalJ. Dairy Sci.