Estimation of probability for the presence of claw and digital skin diseases by combining cow- and herd-level information using a Bayesian network

Prev Vet Med. 2009 Nov 1;92(1-2):89-98. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2009.08.014. Epub 2009 Sep 10.


Cross sectional data on the prevalence of claw and (inter) digital skin diseases on 4854 Holstein Friesian cows in 50 Danish dairy herds was used in a Bayesian network to create herd specific probability distributions for the presence of lameness causing diseases. Parity and lactation stage are identified as risk factors on cow level, for the prevalence of the three lameness causing diseases digital dermatitits, other infectious diseases and claw horn diseases. Four herd level risk factors have been identified; herd size, the use of footbaths, a grazing strategy and total mixed ration. Besides, the data has been used to estimate the random effect of herd on disease prevalence and to find conditional probabilities of cows being lame, given the presence of the three diseases. By considering the 50 herds representative for the Danish population, the estimates for risk factors, conditional probabilities and random herd effects are used to formulate cow-level probability distributions of disease presence in a specific Danish dairy herd. By step-wise inclusion of information on cow- and herd-level risk factors, lameness prevalence and clinical diagnosis of diseases on cows in the herd, the Bayesian network systematically adjusts the probability distributions for disease presence in the specific herd. Information on population-, herd- and cow-level is combined and the uncertainty in inference on disease probability is quantified.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis / prevention & control
  • Dermatitis / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Foot Diseases / epidemiology
  • Foot Diseases / prevention & control
  • Foot Diseases / veterinary*
  • Hoof and Claw*
  • Lactation
  • Markov Chains
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Risk Factors
  • Stochastic Processes