The present study examines the impact of lameness on the time budgets and gait of dairy cattle during early lactation. Automated assessment of activity together with an objective method (using video motion analysis) of assessing the gait of the cattle was utilised. Twenty-five Holstein dairy cows were recruited to the study and were assessed during weeks 1, 6 and 12 of lactation. Lying behaviour was measured using IceTag™ activity monitors which were attached to the right hind leg of the cow for 4 consecutive days during each study week. Cows were locomotion scored to evaluate the influence of lameness on gait and behaviour of cows. Cows that were lame in a hind limb had significantly shorter fore and hind stride lengths. They also tended (p=0.06) to have a negative tracking distance and walk at a slower (p=0.002) speed compared with cows that were considered to be non-lame. Lame cows spent 2h more time lying down per day in comparison to non-lame cows. Cows spent significantly less time lying down during week 6 of lactation and more time standing in comparison to the cows in week 12. The lying behaviour of cows was not different during weeks 1 and 6 or weeks 1 and 12. Cows were significantly more active during week 1 than week 12 of lactation. However the activity of the cows during week 6 was not different from weeks 1 and 12 of lactation. The present study demonstrates that lameness influences stride characteristics and lying behaviour of zero grazed dairy cows.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
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