The use of HOBO's in lameness detection in Alberta dairy cows.
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Lameness is a major problem in present dairy farming. In order to find whether there are other ways to detect lameness in dairy cows instead of gait scoring, the use of HOBO’s, a brand of accelerometers, as a lameness detection method is investigated. The aim of the project is to determine whether HOBO’s can be used as a more specific and sensitive test method for lameness detection in dairy cows. It is thought that lame cows can be detected based on their lying times, because literature describes that lame cows, compared to sound cows, are more likely to lie down for longer periods of time. This is thought to be due to claw lesions or other problems inducing lameness causing pain when weight is placed on the hoofs during rising and lying down in the stalls. For the same reason it is thought that lame cows have a lower number of lying bouts and the duration of lying bouts are longer. The research was part of a running project named “the lameness and longevity project” and took place in Alberta, Canada. Seventeen farms were visited in this province and beside lying times and lying bout information collected using HOBO’s, gait scores were performed using video images made on the farms. This data was used to test the hypotheses. The analysis showed that cows lying down between 8 and 14 hours a day are not necessarily sound and cows lying down less than 8 hours a day are not necessarily lame cows. Cows lying down over 14 hours a day are more likely to be lame and should be watched closely. Also, corrected for farm, the number of bouts was not lower for lame cows and duration of bouts was not longer for lame cows, as was expected.