The interpretation of lameness in cattle, nowadays still relies on visual judgement. This means an enormous input of time and also a lot of experience is needed. Because of the rapidly growing herds, it is necessary to find new ways of lameness detection. A new approach to this issue is a wireless three-dimensional acceleration sensor system to automatically detect and monitor lameness to reduce the annual costs and to improve health in dairy cow herds.
The aim of this study was to assess if the elevation of a dairy cows claw, has any influence on the gait analysis using a wireless three-dimensional accelerometer system. In order to complete the findings of former studies using the 3- DAS to classify the gait score, we attached an Easybloc® (Fa. Demotec, Nidderau) to one lateral hind claw of 14 Austrian Fleckvieh dairy cows. The data collected by the 3-DAS which was glued to the skin of the cows directly over the sacral bone were sent immediately via Bluetooth to a Laptop. Visualized by Microsoft Excel®, at first sight, the data showed that there is no significant influence of the elevation of the claw.
By calculating the root mean square of the three different vectors x, y, z and the standard deviation of the additional calculated vector we found, that the measured values of the cows with an elevated claw show the same proportionality and the same statistical spread as seen in former studies. This correlation proved the working hypothesis namely that attaching a supporting device under a cows claw does not disturb the interpretation of the results, so this method of automatic detection of lameness can also be used for monitoring the healing process.
In summary, this study underlined the possibilities of the 3-DAS in automatic detection of orthopaedic problems in dairy farming and showed that this system has great potential to improve the health of dairy cows in the highly industrialized dairy farms of the future.