By De Campeneere, S. and Mertens, K. C. and Opsomer, G. and Pluym, L. and Saeys, W. and Van Nuffel, A. and Van Weyenberg, S. and Vangeyte, J., Livestock Science, 2013
Lameness research in cattle focuses on daily or weekly variation of several typical gait features, i.e. stride time, stride length or arching of the back. In human gait research however, the variation of typical gait characteristics within one measurement is taken into account and serves as a sensitive and clinically relevant parameter in the evolution of diseases and the response to therapeutic interventions. In this paper the utility of such within measurement variation of gait variables was investigated for lameness research in cattle by comparing variables between lame cows, cows that are scored mildly lame by a trained observer but not yet noticed lame by the farmer, and cows that were scored severely lame and were noticed lame by the farmer in two case-control studies. Additionally, the repeatability of all variables was tested using eight non-lame cows. The measurements with the GAITWISE were found to be highly repeatable and are therefore suited for cow gait characterization. The new set of inconsistency variables was able to distinguish between non-lame and becoming lame (mildly lame but not yet noticed by the farmer) cows. These results suggest the usefulness of such variables of stride-to-stride-fluctuation for early detection of lameness. Whether they are more sensitive for early lameness detection compared to the more conventionally used averaged gait variables should be confirmed in longitudinal studies with non-lame cows and cows that develop lameness. All cows that were selected in the case control studies were mildly or severely lame in the left hind leg. Cows that were severely lame on their left hind leg put less force and take shorter steps with that sore leg increasing stance times on the right side. In addition, their stride to stride fluctuations of ‘stance times on the left front leg’ and ‘step length between left hind and right front leg’ significantly increase for the cows that were mildly lame but not yet noticed lame by the farmer. This strong relationship between the localization of the lameness and the significantly changed variables, suggest that the variables measured by the GAITWISE are promising in defining which leg is developing lameness in cows.
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