Hoof disorders, locomotion ability and lying times of cubicle-housed compared to pasture-based dairy cows

G Olmos, L Boyle, A Hanlon, J Patton, JJ Murphy, JF Mee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

68 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Forty six spring-calving Holstein–Friesians (12 primiparous, 34 pluriparous) were block-paired (expected calving date, parity, body condition score and genetic merit) and allocated to either a PASTURE or HOUSED system for a full production cycle (− 40 to 305 days relative to calving). Both hind claws were inspected on six occasions (− 40, 10, 35, 85, 120 and 210 days relative to calving) to determine the severity of 5 disorders (sole and white line area haemorrhages, white line disease, heel horn erosion, digital dermatitis and other lesions). Six aspects of locomotion ability (tracking, spine curvature, speed, head bobbing, general symmetry and abduction/adduction) were assessed from 1 (normal) to 5 (abnormal) every 2 weeks. Throughout the study records of clinical lameness were kept for all animals. Lying times of 26 block-paired cows (PASTURE n = 13, HOUSED n = 13) were recorded automatically every 5 min for 48 h at 33, 83 and 193 days post-calving. Data were analysed using mixed models for repeated measures, logistic regression and survival analysis, as appropriate. The severity of hoof disorders was lower for PASTURE compared to HOUSED cows from 85 days post-calving onwards (P <0.05). HOUSED cows had a greater hazard ratio (P <0.01) of presenting an abnormal (i.e. scoring ≥ 3) tracking (2.8), spine curvature (2.3), head bobbing (3.6), general symmetry (3.0), abduction/adduction (4.2) and for the average (3.9) of all locomotion aspects investigated (i.e. abnormal locomotion). Furthermore, HOUSED cows had a greater odds ratio (6.5, P <0.01) of clinical lameness from day 180 post-calving onwards. Mean total lying times per 48 h period were shorter (P <0.001) for HOUSED compared to PASTURE cows (18.1 h, SE 0.71 vs. 20.5 h, SE 0.73). In summary, from day 85 post-calving to the end of the production cycle PASTURE cows had less severe hoof disorders, better locomotion ability and reduced likelihood of clinical lameness compared to similar cows in a HOUSED system. The PASTURE system also facilitated longer, undisrupted lying times that have beneficial implications for lameness. A PASTURE system therefore improved cow welfare in terms of lameness compared to a HOUSED system.
Translated title of the contributionHoof disorders, locomotion ability and lying times of cubicle-housed compared to pasture-based dairy cows
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199 - 207
Number of pages8
JournalLivestock Science
Volume125 (2-3)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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