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Vet J. 2013 Aug;197(2):401-5. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.01.029. Epub 2013 Mar 15.

Nociceptive threshold, blood constituents and physiological values in 213 cows with locomotion scores ranging from normal to severely lame.

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Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University Austral of Chile, Campus Isla Teja, Valdivia, Chile.


The aim of this study was to investigate associations between mechanical nociceptive threshold, blood constituents, physiological measurements and locomotion score (LS) in dairy cattle with a range of LS from 1 (normal) to 5 (severely lame). The study used 213 Friesian/Friesian cross dairy cows from 12 farms. There were 40-50 cows each with LS 1-4 and 22 cows with LS 5. Each cow was restrained and her temperature and respiratory and cardiac rates were measured. Nociceptive threshold, plasma concentrations of haptoglobin, β-hydroxybutyrate (β-HB), cortisol, glucose, lactate, creatinine kinase activity, packed cell volume and white blood cell counts were determined. Mixed effect models were used to investigate associations between the variables measured and LS. Parity and stage of lactation were forced into all analyses and the model fit was checked by investigation of residuals. After accounting for parity and stage of lactation, nociceptive threshold was significantly lower in cattle with LS 3-5 compared with LS 1 in a dose response manner, indicating increasing hyperalgesia with increasing LS. Haptoglobin concentration was raised in all cattle with LS>1, demonstrating an inflammatory response with all levels of lameness. Cortisol and glucose concentrations were lower and β-HB concentrations higher in cows with LS 2 compared with cows with other scores, possibly signifying metabolic challenge. Heart and respiratory rate and rectal temperature were significantly higher only in cows with LS 5, suggesting that these measurements were insensitive measures of pain or stress. It was concluded that hyperalgesia increases with increasing severity of lameness and that nociceptive pressure and haptoglobin were sensitive measures of pain from lameness.


Dairy cattle; Haptoglobin; Lameness; Locomotion score; Nociception

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