• Associating cow characteristics with mobility scores in pasture-based dairy cows

      O'Connor, Aisling; Bokkers, Eddie A.M.; de Boer, Imke J. M.; Hogeveen, Henk; Sayers, Riona; Byrne, Nicky; Ruelle, Elodie; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-07-10)
      The quality of dairy cow mobility can have significant welfare, economic, and environmental consequences that have yet to be extensively quantified for pasture-based systems. The objective of this study was to characterize mobility quality by examining associations between specific mobility scores, claw disorders (both the type and severity), body condition score (BCS), and cow parity. Data were collected for 6,927 cows from 52 pasture-based dairy herds, including mobility score (0 = optimal mobility; 1, 2, or 3 = increasing severities of suboptimal mobility), claw disorder type and severity, BCS, and cow parity. Multinomial logistic regression was used for analysis. The outcome variable was mobility score, and the predictor variables were BCS, type and severity of claw disorders, and cow parity. Three models were run, each with 1 reference category (mobility score 0, 1, or 2). Each model also included claw disorders (overgrown claw, sole hemorrhage, white line disease, sole ulcer, and digital dermatitis), BCS, and cow parity as predictor variables. The presence of most types of claw disorders had odds ratios >1, indicating an increased likelihood of a cow having suboptimal mobility. Low BCS (BCS <3.00) was associated with an increased risk of a cow having suboptimal mobility, and relatively higher parity was also associated with an increased risk of suboptimal mobility. These results confirm an association between claw disorders, BCS, cow parity, and dairy cow mobility score. Therefore, mobility score should be routinely practiced to identify cows with slight deviations from the optimal mobility pattern and to take preventive measures to keep the problem from worsening.
    • Associating cow characteristics with mobility scores in pasture-based dairy cows

      O'Connor, Aisling; Bokkers, E.A.M.; de Boer, I.J.M.; Hogeveen, H.; Sayers, Riona; Byrne, Nicky; Ruelle, Elodie; Shalloo, Laurence; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2019-07-10)
      The quality of dairy cow mobility can have significant welfare, economic, and environmental consequences that have yet to be extensively quantified for pasture-based systems. The objective of this study was to characterize mobility quality by examining associations between specific mobility scores, claw disorders (both the type and severity), body condition score (BCS), and cow parity. Data were collected for 6,927 cows from 52 pasture-based dairy herds, including mobility score (0 = optimal mobility; 1, 2, or 3 = increasing severities of suboptimal mobility), claw disorder type and severity, BCS, and cow parity. Multinomial logistic regression was used for analysis. The outcome variable was mobility score, and the predictor variables were BCS, type and severity of claw disorders, and cow parity. Three models were run, each with 1 reference category (mobility score 0, 1, or 2). Each model also included claw disorders (overgrown claw, sole hemorrhage, white line disease, sole ulcer, and digital dermatitis), BCS, and cow parity as predictor variables. The presence of most types of claw disorders had odds ratios >1, indicating an increased likelihood of a cow having suboptimal mobility. Low BCS (BCS <3.00) was associated with an increased risk of a cow having suboptimal mobility, and relatively higher parity was also associated with an increased risk of suboptimal mobility. These results confirm an association between claw disorders, BCS, cow parity, and dairy cow mobility score. Therefore, mobility score should be routinely practiced to identify cows with slight deviations from the optimal mobility pattern and to take preventive measures to keep the problem from worsening.
    • The Effect of Group Composition and Mineral Supplementation during Rearing on Measures of Cartilage Condition and Bone Mineral Density in Replacement Gilts

      Hartnett, Phoebe; Boyle, Laura; Younge, Bridget; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme (MDPI, 2019-08-30)
      Lameness is a major cause of poor longevity and poor welfare in replacement gilts. The problem is exacerbated by inappropriate housing and diet during the rearing period. Replacement gilts are often reared with male finisher pigs destined for slaughter. If they are not castrated, they perform high levels of potentially injurious sexual and aggressive behaviour. Furthermore, finisher pig diets are not designed to meet the needs of developing gilts and may not supply the necessary minerals to support good limb health. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of supplementing the diet of replacement gilts with copper, zinc and manganese and separating them from males during the rearing period on locomotory ability, bone mineral density and cartilage lesion scores. A 2 × 2 factorial design experiment investigated the effect of female-only or mixed-sex rearing, with or without supplementary minerals (Copper, Zinc and Manganese). In total, 384 maternal line gilts were assigned to 32 pens of 12 and were locomotion scored during the rearing period. A sub-sample (n = 102) of gilts were culled at breeding age and the front right limb was removed at slaughter. Areal bone mineral density (aBMD) was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, after which the limb was dissected to score the condition of the cartilage. The addition of trace minerals to the diet resulted in increased aBMD in the humerus (P < 0.05) compared to the control diet. Rearing gilts in female-only groups reduced the number of cartilage lesions overall (P < 0.05), and on the humeral condyle (P < 0.05). Rearing replacement gilts in female-only groups and with mineral supplementation had benefits for limb health.
    • Effects of gestation housing system and floor type during lactation on locomotory ability; body, limb, and claw lesions; and lying-down behavior of lactating sows

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Fahey, A. G.; Boyle, Laura A; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2014-04-01)
      This study evaluated the influence of housing system during gestation and floor type during lactation on the welfare and lying-down behavior of lactating sows. Multiparous sows (n = 85) were housed either in individual gestation stalls (n = 42) or loose (n = 43) in a single dynamic group with 2 electronic sow feeders moved to farrowing crates on either slatted steel (n = 48) or cast iron (n = 37) flooring. Lameness (0 = normal to 5 = severely lame) was scored on transfer to the farrowing crate (-5 d). Limb and body lesions were recorded on -5 d, 24 h after entering the farrowing crate (-4 d), 10-d postpartum, and before weaning. Claw lesions were recorded on -5 d and before weaning, whereas all behavioral observations were made on -5, -4, and 10 d. Median (Me) scores were calculated for claw, body, and limb lesions and classified as either less than or equal to the Me or greater than the Me lesion scores. Sows were classified as nonlame (£ 1) or lame (³ 2). Loose-housed sows had an increased (P < 0.01) risk of lameness; a reduced (P < 0.05) risk for claw lesions, particularly white line damage, horizontal wall cracks, and dewclaw injuries; and a reduced (P < 0.05) risk for calluses and bursitis on the limbs compared to stall-housed sows. Sows housed on cast iron floors during lactation had a reduced (P < 0.01) risk for heel overgrowth and erosion and heel-sole cracks compared with sows on slatted steel floors. There was no (P > 0.05) association between flooring type during lactation and body lesion score. On -4 d, loose-housed sows had a shorter latency to lie down (P < 0.01), spent more time inactive (P < 0.05), and shifted weight between the limbs more often (P = 0.05) while standing compared with stall-housed sows. Lame sows had a shorter (P < 0.01) latency to lie down compared to nonlame sows on -5 and -4 d. In conclusion, there was an increased risk of lameness in sows housed loose compared to those housed in gestation stalls on transfer to the farrowing crate. Claw health deteriorated in the farrowing crate regardless of gestation housing or floor type but the deterioration in claw health was increased on slatted steel compared to on cast iron
    • Grazing Cow Behavior’s Association with Mild and Moderate Lameness

      O’Leary, Niall W.; Byrne, Daire. T.; Garcia, Pauline; Werner, Jessica; Cabedoche, Morgan; Shalloo, Laurence; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; 13/IA/1977; 16/RC/3835 (MDPI AG, 2020-04-11)
      Accelerometer-based mobility scoring has focused on cow behaviors such as lying and walking. Accuracy levels as high as 91% have been previously reported. However, there has been limited replication of results. Here, measures previously identified as indicative of mobility, such as lying bouts and walking time, were examined. On a research farm and a commercial farm, 63 grazing cows’ behavior was monitored in four trials (16, 16, 16, and 15 cows) using leg-worn accelerometers. Seventeen good mobility (score 0), 23 imperfect mobility (score 1), and 22 mildly impaired mobility (score 2) cows were monitored. Only modest associations with activity, standing, and lying events were found. Thus, behavior monitoring appears to be insufficient to discern mildly and moderately impaired mobility of grazing cows.
    • Infrared thermography as a tool to detect hoof lesions in sheep

      Byrne, Daire T; Berry, Donagh; Esmonde, Harold; McGovern, Fiona; Creighton, Philip; McHugh, Noirin; Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine; RSF 11/S/133 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2018-12-08)
      Lameness has a major negative impact on sheep production. The objective of this study was to 1) quantify the repeatability of sheep hoof temperatures estimated using infrared thermography (IRT); 2) determine the relationship between ambient temperature, sheep hoof temperature, and sheep hoof health status; and 3) validate the use of IRT to detect infection in sheep hooves. Three experiments (a repeatability, exploratory, and validation experiment) were conducted over 10 distinct nonconsecutive days. In the repeatability experiment, 30 replicate thermal images were captured from each of the front and back hooves of nine ewes on a single day. In the exploratory experiment, hoof lesion scores, locomotion scores, and hoof thermal images were recorded every day from the same cohort of 18 healthy ewes in addition to a group of lame ewes, which ranged from one to nine ewes on each day. Hoof lesion and locomotion scores were blindly recorded by three independent operators. In the validation experiment, all of the same procedures from the exploratory experiment were applied to a new cohort of 40 ewes across 2 d. The maximum and average temperature of each hoof was extracted from the thermal images. Repeatability of IRT measurements was assessed by partitioning the variance because of ewe and error using mixed models. The relationship between ambient temperature, hoof temperature, and hoof health status was quantified using mixed models. The percentage of hooves correctly classified as healthy (i.e., specificity) and infected (i.e., sensitivity) was calculated for a range of temperature thresholds. Results showed that a small-to-moderate proportion of the IRT-estimated temperature variability in a given hoof was due to error (1.6% to 20.7%). A large temperature difference (8.5 °C) between healthy and infected hooves was also detected. The maximum temperature of infected hooves was unaffected by ambient temperature (P > 0.05), whereas the temperature of healthy hooves was associated with ambient temperature. The best sensitivity (92%) and specificity (91%) results in the exploratory experiment were observed when infected hooves were defined as having a maximum hoof temperature ≥9 °C above the average of the five coldest hooves in the flock on that day. When the same threshold was applied to the validation dataset, a sensitivity of 77% and specificity of 78% was achieved, indicating that IRT could have the potential to detect infection in sheep hooves.
    • Invited review: Cattle lameness detection with accelerometers

      O'Leary, N.W.; Byrne, D.T.; O'Connor, A.H.; Shalloo, Laurence; Science Foundation Ireland; 13/IA/1977 (American Dairy Science Association, 2020-05)
      Locomotion scoring is time consuming and is not commonly completed on farms. Farmers also underestimate their herds' lameness prevalence, a knowledge gap that impedes lameness management. Automation of lameness detection could address this knowledge gap and facilitate improved lameness management. The literature pertinent to adding lameness detection to accelerometers is reviewed in this paper. Options for lameness detection systems are examined including the choice of sensor, raw data collected, variables extracted, and statistical classification methods used. Two categories of variables derived from accelerometer-based systems are examined. These categories are behavior measures such as lying and measures of gait. For example, one measure of gait is the time a leg is swinging during a gait cycle. Some behavior-focused studies have reported accuracy levels of greater than 80%. Cow gait measures have been investigated to a lesser extent than behavior. However, classification accuracies as high as 91% using gait measures have been reported with hardware likely to be practical for commercial farms. The need for even higher accuracy and potential barriers to adoption are discussed. Significant progress is still required to realize a system with sufficient specificity and sensitivity. Lameness detection systems using 1 accelerometer per cow and a resolution lower than 100 Hz with gait measurement functions are suggested to balance cost and data requirements. However, gait measurement using accelerometers is rather underdeveloped. Therefore, a high priority should be given to the development of novel gait measures and testing their ability to differentiate lame from nonlame cows.
    • Longitudinal study of the effect of rubber slat mats on locomotory ability, body, limb and claw lesions, and dirtiness of group housed sows

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Fahey, A. G.; KilBride, A. L.; Green, L. E.; Boyle, Laura A; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2013-08-01)
      This study evaluated the influence of floor type on sow welfare with particular focus on lameness, claw lesions (CL), and injuries. The study used 164 gilts housed in groups of 8 from AI to 110 d of pregnancy in pens with concrete (n = 84) slatted floor left uncovered or covered by 10-mm rubber slat mats (n = 80) through 2 parities. Lameness (0 = normal to 5 = severe), limb (0 = normal to 6 = severe) and body (0 = normal to 5 = severe) lesions, and manure on the body (MOB; score 0 to 2) were recorded at AI, 24 to 72 h postmixing, between 50 and 70 d of pregnancy, and 2 wk before farrowing. Claw lesions (score 0 = normal to 3 = severe) were recorded at AI and between 50 and 70 d of pregnancy. The dirtiness and wetness of the floors was scored weekly (score 0 = clean to 4 = >75% of the pen soiled/wet). Data from the first and second parities were analyzed separately. Sows were categorized as nonlame (score ≤ 1) or lame (score ≥ 2). Median (Me) scores were calculated for CL and body and limb lesions and were classified as less than or equal to the median or greater than the median lesion scores. Sows on rubber slat mats had a reduced risk of lameness during both parities (P < 0.01) compared with sows on concrete. They also had an increased risk of scores greater than the median for toe overgrowth (Me = 2 and Me = 3 in the first and second parity, respectively) and heel sole crack (HSC; Me = 3) during both parities (P < 0.01) and for cracks in the wall (CW; Me = 4) and white line damage (WL; Me = 4; P < 0.01) in the first and second parity, respectively. There was a reduced risk of lameness in sows with scores greater than the median for HSC (P = 0.05) in the first parity and WL (Me = 3; P < 0.01) and CW (Me = 3; P < 0.05) in the second parity. Wounds (Me = 3) and severe lesions (Me = 0) on the limbs with scores greater than the median were associated with an increased risk of lameness (P < 0.01) in the first and second parity, respectively. Sows on rubber slat mats had a reduced risk of scores greater than the median for swellings (Me = 4) and wounds (P < 0.01) during both parities. Pens with rubber slat mats were dirtier than uncovered pens (P < 0.01); however, there was no association between MOB and flooring type. There was also no association between body lesion score and flooring type. In this study, CL were not associated with an increased risk of lameness. Therefore, even though rubber slat mats were associated with an increased risk of CL, they improved the welfare of group housed sows by reducing the risk of lameness and limb lesions.