Association between a visual and an automated locomotion score in lactating Holstein cows

R. C. Bicalho, S. H. Cheong, G. Cramer, C. L. Guard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Two studies were conducted to evaluate visual locomotion scoring (VLS) and Stepmetrix locomotion scoring (SLS) in detecting painful digit lesions. In study 1, one veterinarian performed VLS. Cows with VLS ≥3 were hoof trimmed and the presence or absence of a painful lesion (PL), defined as a reaction to digital pressure, was recorded. A strongly increasing pattern in the proportion of cows with PL was detected as VLS increased. The proportions of cows with painful lesions were 5.6% (n = 53), 20.1% (n = 78), 55.5% (n = 164), 79.9% (n = 159), and 100% (n = 5) for VLS 1 to 5, respectively. Study 2 was conducted on a different farm. The entire farm was visually locomotion scored by 3 veterinarians on the same day, and the cows were Stepmetrix locomotion scored by walking through the Stepmetrix system. Every cow was trimmed during the following 2 d by 1 of 8 professional hoof trimmers. The 3 veterinarians identified, scored, and recorded any PL. Interobserver agreement for the 3 veterinarians had a kappa coefficient of between 0.45 and 0.48 ± 0.05. In total, 518 cows were used in the analysis, from which 11.2% were identified with a PL. Of the cows diagnosed with a PL, 32.8% were detected with a sole ulcer, 25.9% with white line disease, 13.8% with white line abscess, and 27.5% with other diseases. A receiver operating characteristic analysis was performed; the area under the curve was larger for VLS (0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.76 to 0.83) than SLS (0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.57 to 0.66). When performed by trained veterinarians, VLS performed better than SLS in detecting PL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3294-3300
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Dairy cow
  • Lameness
  • Stepmetrix

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