Lameness is a major animal welfare issue, thus the assessment of lameness prevalence is an important point to welfare assessment. Lameness is assumed to be a visual sign of underlying problems, e.g. hoof lesions or other painful limb injuries. Manual locomotion scoring systems are used to indicate the quality of locomotion of cattle. An increasing level of impaired locomotion is mainly associated with lameness. In a review about locomotion scoring in dairy cows (Schlageter-Tello, A. et al. 2014) twenty five scoring systems were found in literature from 1945 to 2013; all of these scoring systems were modifications or combinations of three manual locomotion scoring systems. The scoring systems mainly propagated in literature are for dairy cows and to be done while the animal is walking. Therefore, these schemes are difficult to use for fattening bulls.
An early detection of lameness is important for welfare and health (and therefore also for economic success) in fattening bulls, too. Some criteria may be collected during routine inspection of fattening bulls, too, for example reluctance to bear weight, difficulty in rising and arched back.
Reluctance to bear weight is reported in literature to have a high correlation with the results of locomotion scoring. Assessment protocols to score lameness in standing animal are “Welfare Quality” and “Tierschutzindikatoren Leitfaden für die Praxis – Rind”. Welfare quality assesses the criteria resting a foot, frequent weight shifting (stepping) or repeated movements of the same foot and standing on the edge of a step. The scheme of KTBL has similar criteria, these are: repeated resting a foot and standing with the front part of the claw on the edge of a step. These criteria should be propagated and used to ensure improved animal health with regard to foot diseases in fattening bulls.
Fixed criteria for the routine inspection of animals can help to identify problems at an early stage and thus to solve them more easily. They can also help with decision making. For implementing a planed lameness rating try to remember the mention criteria during daily animal control and during feed presentation when the animals are standing or standing up. Especially at the end of the fattening, in dark old buildings and in very deep pens, it is not always easy to look at all claws of each animal. Nevertheless, the hard-to-see limbs should be rated in particular.
- Schlageter-Tello, A. (2014): Manual and automatic locomotion scoring systems in dairy cows: A review: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2014.06.006
- KTBL (2016): Tierschutzindikatoren Leitfaden für die Praxis – Rind: https://www.ktbl.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Allgemeines/Download/Tierwohl/Leitfaden_Indikatoren_Mastrind.pdf
- Kirchner, M. K. et al. (2014): Application of the Welfare Quality® assessment system on European beef bull farms: https://doi.org/10.1017/s1751731114000366
This Research Innovation has an Impact on:
- Socio-economic resilience: Lame animals are not aloud to be transported to the slaughterhouse. Emergency killing on the farm reduces the price received. Therefore, the early detection and treatment of lame animals can support the socio-economic resilience.
- Animal health and welfare: Early detection of hoof lesions can help to solve the problems faster and easier. Thus, it prevents impaired animal health and welfare and reduced veterinary costs.
- Production efficiency and meat quality: Lame animals have reduced daily weight gain, less carcass yield and a decreased carcass quality, therefore the reduction or early detection and treatment of lameness can improve production efficiency and meat quality.