The effect of routine hoof trimming on locomotion score, ruminating time, activity, and milk yield of dairy cows

By Antler, A. and Bahr, C. and Berckmans, D. and Halachmi, I. and Lokhorst, C. and Maltz, E. and Parmet, Y. and Romanini, C. E. B. and Schlageter-Tello, A. A. and Steensels, M. and Van Hertem, T. and Viazzi, S., Journal of Dairy Science, 2014
The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of hoof trimming on cow behavior (ruminating time, activity, and locomotion score) and performance (milk yield) over time. Data were gathered from a commercial dairy farm in Israel where routine hoof trimming is done by a trained hoof trimmer twice per year on the entire herd. In total, 288 cows spread over 6 groups with varying production levels were used for the analysis. Cow behavior was measured continuously with a commercial neck activity logger and a ruminating time logger (HR-Tag, SCR Engineers Ltd., Netanya, Israel). Milk yield was recorded during each milking session with a commercial milk flow sensor (Free Flow, SCR Engineers Ltd.). A trained observer assigned on the spot 5-point locomotion scores during 19 nighttime milking occasions between 22 October 2012 and 4 February 2013. Behavioral and performance data were gathered from 1 wk before hoof trimming until 1 wk after hoof trimming. A generalized linear mixed model was used to statistically test all main and interactive effects of hoof trimming, parity, lactation stage, and hoof lesion presence on ruminating time, neck activity, milk yield, and locomotion score. The results on locomotion scores show that the proportional distribution of cows in the different locomotion score classes changes significantly after trimming. The proportion of cows with a locomotion score ≥3 increases from 14% before to 34% directly after the hoof trimming. Two months after the trimming, the number of cows with a locomotion score ≥3 reduced to 20%, which was still higher than the baseline values 2 wk before the trimming. The neck activity level was significantly reduced 1 d after trimming (380 ± 6 bits/d) compared with before trimming (389 ± 6 bits/d). Each one-unit increase in locomotion score reduced cow activity level by 4.488 bits/d. The effect of hoof trimming on ruminating time was affected by an interaction effect with parity. The effect of hoof trimming on locomotion scores was affected by an interaction effect with lactation stage and tended to be affected by interaction effects with hoof lesion presence, indicating that cows with a lesion reacted different to the trimming than cows without a lesion did. The results show that the routine hoof trimming affected dairy cow behavior and performance in this farm.
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