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J Dairy Sci. 2005 Sep;88(9):3166-73.

Hoof pathologies influence kinematic measures of dairy cow gait.

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Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Food and Land Systems, The Univeresity of British Columbia, Vancouver, V6T 1Z4, Canada.


To explore how hoof pathologies affect the gait of dairy cattle, we studied gait profiles of cows with no visible injuries (n = 17), sole lesions (n = 14), and sole ulcers (n = 7). Video recordings of dairy cows were digitized using motion analysis software to calculate 6 stride variables for each hoof. Compared with cows with sole ulcers, healthy cows walked faster (1.11 +/- 0.03 vs. 0.90 +/- 0.05 m/s, mean +/- SEM), had shorter stride durations (1.26 +/- 0.03 vs. 1.48 +/- 0.05 s), and longer strides (139.5 +/- 2.1 vs. 130.0 +/- 3.2 cm). Percentage of triple support in the gait cycle (time when cattle were supported by 3 legs) more than doubled for cows with sole ulcers compared with healthy cows (42 vs. 18%). Gait differences were likely due to cows reducing the load on an affected leg. Few differences were detected between healthy cows and those with sole lesions, perhaps because of variation in number, severity, and location of injuries. Kinematic gait analysis is a promising approach in understanding how hoof pathologies affect dairy cow gait.

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