The effect of digital lesions and floor type on locomotion score in Dutch dairy cows

K. Frankena, J.G.C.J. Somers, W.G.P. Schouten, J.V. van Stek, J.H.M. Metz, E.N. Stassen, E.A.M. Graat

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48 Citations (Scopus)


This study describes the effects of floor system, digital dermatitis (DD) and interdigital dermatitis and heel-horn erosion (IDHE) on locomotion performance in 225 dairy cows of 12 commercial dairy herds. Nine herds were kept in cubicle houses with concrete passageways (either solid, slatted, or grooved concrete) and three herds were kept in straw yards. Animals were at most five times examined at monthly intervals for lesion severity of DD and IDHE and for locomotion score. Locomotion score was rated on a scale ranging from 1 to 5 (from normal to severe) and disturbed locomotion (lameness) was defined as a score ¿3. A logistic regression model was used to analyze the 943 observations using lameness (yes/no) as outcome variable. The proportion of observations scored as lame (locomotion score ¿3) increased from 18% 1 month after trimming to 29% at 4 months after trimming. Severe lesions of DD and IDHE were associated with a significantly higher proportion of lame cows. The proportion of animals with disturbed locomotion increased from 16% to 40% as the severity of DD increased and from 17% to 30% with increasing severity of IDHE lesions. Locomotion performance highly differed between the cubicle house and straw yard group. Only 1% of all gaits in straw yard cows were scored as lame, while in cubicle housed cows these percentages varied from 24% to 46% with grooved floors showing the highest average locomotion score. Due to the extreme low incidence of lameness in straw yards, the statistical analysis had to be restricted to observations on concrete floors (n = 744). The logistic regression model with lameness (yes/no) as dependent variable and random effects of cow and herd resulted in Odds Ratios for severe DD and IDHE of, respectively, 3.2 and 3.2, both significantly larger than unity. Cows housed at grooved concrete floors showed the highest OR of 6.5 compared to solid concrete floors. Recovery of lameness was poor as disturbance in gait lasted several months.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-157
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • risk-factors
  • clinical lameness
  • foot lesions
  • white line
  • cattle
  • dermatitis
  • prevalence
  • epidemiology
  • disorders
  • cubicles


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