Other types of Scoring

Body condition scoring

Body condition scoring can be used to check whether your cows maintain, gain or lose condition. It is probable that lameness and reduced feed intake cause a loss of condition, as there is a strong negative correlation between locomotion scores and body condition scores. Body condition scores decrease as locomotion scores increase (i.e. lame cows are thinner). It’s a good idea to check the condition of the animals regularly (i.e. monthly), especially those that have recently calved.

Hoof scoring

To gain a clear picture of the exact hoof health status of the herd, it’s a good idea to observe and record all hoof disorders and severity at the same time. For example, an ideal time is when a hoof trimmer is trimming a group or the whole herd, as picking up the feet is easier while the animals are restrained, so they don’t panic and slip or fall.

Digital dermatitis (DD) lesion scoring

To assess the severity of infectious diseases, scoring systems such as the following one can be used. The table indicates the size and severity of lesions and a descriptive key to help identify them. The lesions increase in severity, pain and lameness down the table.

SKMBT_C28013112114160

Lesion size and stage Source- DeLaval

Lesions transition between stages i.e. they heal or move to another stage that may be desirable or undesirable. This can be studied after a period of treatment or preventative foot bathing to determine if lesions are entering stages of less severity.

Ideally, we would like to see an increase in lesion transitions that promote healing and preven­tion (curative, no change — to promote) and decrease those lesion transitions that are a sign of clinical aggravation (aggravating and no change — not desirable) (dopfer et all, 2008, Lopez-Benavides et al, 2008).

From this, we can determine whether the problems associated with DD are also improving. This highlights also that not all cows suffer from the same degree of infection, or have the same infection history and cure prospect. Every cow needs individual assessment.

SKMBT_C28013112114161

Nc-p = no change – to be promoted; nc-nd = No change – not desired; C=curative; A – Aggravating

Lesion transition stages – Source DeLaval

New technology

Technological detection devices can also be used, the most common type being pedometers worn on a limb at the fetlock, or activity meters worn around the neck. These are primarily used to detect oestrus levels by measuring the number of steps, or head bobs compared to an individual’s rolling average, but in terms of lameness they can be used to detect a decrease in activity.

Other technologies are under development in the effort to find a fail-proof detection system, for example by using cameras or measuring weight distribution. It will be interesting to see whether these actually provide farmers with the practical means to prevent lameness, or whether they will merely be expensive detection tools that are too technological, difficult to use, or unreliable.

Information kindly provided by DeLaval UK