lameness prevalence in confined and grazing systems in Argentina

Published: 22 December 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/c8j2y62k77.1
belen lazzarini


The aim of this study was to evaluate the consistency of estimations of lameness prevalence between farm managers and locomotion scoring conducted by a trained observer in confined and grazing systems.Grazing (n= 9) and confined dairy farms (n=9) distributed in Santa Fe, Cordoba and Entre Rios provinces, the main dairy region of Argentina, were visited in spring-summer season (November 2021 to February 2022). Grazing dairy farms had lactating cows on pasture all year round, and confined dairy farms had cows under a barn either on a free-stall or a compost-bedded pack housing system, with no access to pasture. Only two of the confined farms had a loafing area with no pasture.


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Lactating cows in the farms were locomotion scored during the visit by two trained observers using a four-point visual scale from 0 to 3 (Barker et al. 2010). According to this scale, cows with a score of 0 or 1 walk with a flat backline, none or little head bob, and no noticeable limp. Cows with score 2 and 3 are lame and very lame cows, respectively, walking speed is slow and backline is arched when standing and walking. In this study, cows scored as 0 or 1 were considered non-lame, and cows with scores 2 and 3 were considered lame. number of cows in the herd, with sample size selected according to the methodology of Welfare Quality®. In total 1,426 cows were scored. Before the on-farm lameness assessment and data collection, observers performed a training course on locomotion scoring. After the course, inter-observer and intra-observer reliability tests were performed. I On the same day of the assessment, farm managers were face-to-face interviewed about the number of lame cows in the herd and about knowledge and management of lameness. A predefined questionnaire with a range of possible answers was used . Furthermore, farm managers were asked to suggest the main causes of lameness in their farms. Besides, observations and measurements of footbaths were conducted by the interviewer. Lameness prevalence estimated by the trained observer was calculated as the number of cows detected as lame and very lame (scoring 2 and 3, respectively) divided by the herd sample, and prevalence estimated by the farm manager was calculated as the number of cows that the farmers identified as lame divided by the herd size. Locomotion scoring was conducted after morning milking in the barn for confined farms or in the paddock for grazing farms. Cows to be evaluated were randomly selected in the barn or paddock prior to walking.


Universidad Nacional del Litoral


Animal Welfare