A Note on Possible Link Between Behaviour and the Occurrence of Lameness in Dairy Cows

Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2000 Apr 19;67(4):335-341. doi: 10.1016/s0168-1591(99)00114-8.


Lameness in cattle is a major welfare problem and has important economic implications. It is known that lameness has a multifactorial causation; however, it is still not clear why some individuals are more susceptible than others to present foot lesions under the same environment. Social and individual behaviour is thought to play an important role. The aim of this study was to assess the possible relationships between social behaviour, individual time budgets, and the incidence of lameness in 40 dairy cows. The incidence of lameness in the group of cows observed was 42%. There were no differences in the mean time standing between low-, middle- and high-ranking cows. Low-ranking cows spent more time standing still in passageways and standing half in the cubicles than middle- and high-ranking cows. No differences were found in the mean time standing between cows that got lame and cows that did not get lame. However, cows that got clinically lame spent longer standing half in the cubicles and had a significantly lower index of displacements than those cows that did not get lame. This study may offer a starting point to better understand the relationships between behaviour and the occurrence of lameness in dairy cows.