Technical note: A comparison of 2 methods of assessing lameness prevalence in tiestall herds.

Gibbons, J., Haley, D., Higginson Cutler, J., Nash, C., Zaffino Heyerhoff, J., Pellerin, D., Adam, S., Fournier, A., de Passillé, A.M.B., Rushen, J.P., and Vasseur, E. (2014). "Technical note: A comparison of 2 methods of assessing lameness prevalence in tiestall herds.", Journal of Dairy Science (JDS), 97(1), pp. 350-353. doi : 10.3168/jds.2013-6783  Access to full text

Abstract

We compared 2 methods for identifying lame cows and estimating the prevalence of lameness in tiestalls. Cows (n = 320) in 9 tiestall herds were scored as lame both by the presence of limping while walking and by stall lameness scores (SLS). The SLS was based on the number of the following behaviors that the cow showed while standing in the tiestall: weight shifting, standing on the edge of the stall, uneven weight bearing while standing, and uneven weight bearing while moving from side to side. Two observers watched video-recordings of the cows. Intraobserver agreements for the 4 SLS behaviors ranged from 92 to 100%, and interobserver agreement ranged from 81 to 100%. The overall prevalence of lameness based on an SLS of ≥2 was similar to that of limping (39 vs. 40%). The sensitivity of the classification based on the SLS was 0.63 and the specificity was 0.77 in identifying cows with a limp; accuracy varied across farms from 62.2 to 80.4%, with a mean of 71.7%. A cow with an SLS of ≥2 had 4.88 times the odds of limping than a cow with an SLS of <2. The prevalence of lameness on farms based on SLS was highly correlated with the prevalence of limping (Pearson correlation = 0.88; n = 9), and prevalence estimates from the 2 methods diverged most when the mean herd prevalence was lower. The SLS method provides an estimate of the prevalence of lameness in tiestall herds comparable with traditional gait scoring, but does not require that the cows be untied. The SLS method could be used to improve lameness detection on tiestall farms and obtain estimates of lameness prevalence without the need to walk the cows.

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