Objectives were to evaluate the association between behavior and hoof lesions (HL) in lactating dairy cows. Jersey cows without any visible HL on all 4 legs were enrolled at 20 ± 3 d in milk (DIM), examined for body condition score (BCS), and had an automatic activity monitor (AfiTag II, AfiMilk, Afikim, Israel) attached to their right hind leg. At 120 ± 3 DIM, activity monitors were removed and cows were re-examined for HL and BCS. Cows were classified according to HL status as either healthy or with HL at d 120. Because sole hemorrhage (SH) accounted for over 80% of HL on d 120, SH was reclassified according to the number of feet affected. Daily activity data (daily lying duration, lying bouts, lying bout duration, and number of steps) of 344 cows collected between d 20 and d 120 were analyzed using restricted maximum likelihood linear mixed models with an autoregressive covariance structure. Separate models were built to include specific activities, HL status at d 120, DIM, interaction between lesion status at d 120 and DIM, parity, season of calving, and BCS change from d 20 to d 120 as fixed effects. Cow was included in all models as random effect. Incidence of HL at d 120 was 58.4% (n = 201 out of 344). Compared with healthy cows, cows with HL at d 120 had reduced daily lying duration (−0.53 h; 95% CI: −0.78 to −0.28 h) in the early postpartum period. We found no evidence for a difference in number of lying bouts (0.41; 95% CI: −0.76 to 1.59;), lying bout duration (−3.04 min; 95% CI: −6.6 to 0.49), and number of steps (62.14; 95% CI: −89.62 to 213.91) between cows that remained healthy and those that developed HL. Compared with healthy cows, cows that developed SH in 1 or more feet had reduced daily lying duration in the early postpartum period. Irrespective of lesion status at d 120, daily lying duration and lying bout duration increased from d 20 to d 120, whereas lying bout number and number of steps decreased from d 20 to d 120. We concluded that cows that developed HL had a reduced daily lying duration in the early postpartum period. Therefore, reduced daily lying duration should be considered a risk factor for HL development in lactating dairy cows.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the owners and staff of Davis Family Dairies (Nicollet, MN, and Le Sueur, MN) for the use of their cows and facilities and for their assistance during experimental procedures. We thank Aaron Rendahl (University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN) for his help with the statistical analyses. Financial support for this project was provided by a grant from Rapid Agricultural Response Minnesota Fund and the University of Minnesota (St. Paul). The assistance of graduate and summer students of the University of Minnesota (Saint Paul) during farm visits is appreciated. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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- hoof lesion
- lying bout
- lying duration
- number of steps