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Objective Determination of Claw Pain and Its Relationship to Limb Locomotion Score in Dairy Cattle

Journal of Dairy Science
American Dairy Science Association
DOI: 10.3168/jds.2007-0006
  • Physiology And Management


Abstract We hypothesized that claw and foot pain could be objectively determined and have a strong effect on limb locomotion. Claw pain was measured using hoof testers equipped with a pressure gauge. Soft tissue pain was evaluated with an algometer. Pain was determined as the maximum pressure recorded at the time the limb was withdrawn following claw or soft tissue compression with the hoof tester or algometer. Locomotion scores and claw and soft tissue pain were determined on 263 Holstein cows from 2 commercial dairy farms. The frequency and the magnitude of pain had an effect on locomotion score in the ipsilateral limb for lateral, but not medial, claws. The magnitude of the lateral claw pain index for limbs with locomotion scores 1 to 5 was 0.95±0.01, 0.90±0.02, 0.67±0.04, 0.65±0.05, and 0.45±0.11, respectively. The magnitude of the medial claw pain index for limbs with locomotion scores 1 to 5 was 1.0±0.00, 0.99±0.01, 0.98±0.01, 1.0±0.00, and 1.0±0.00, respectively. The frequency of painful claws (n=208) in limbs with locomotion scores 1, 2, and ≥3 was 0.529, 0.173, and 0.298, respectively. The frequency of painless claws (n=318) in limbs with locomotion scores 1, 2, or ≥3 was 0.792, 0.088, and 0.120, respectively. The frequency of pain (27.1%) and total lesions (85.6%) was greater in lateral claws (n=524) than that of pain (2.1%) and total lesions (14.4%) in medial claws (n=524). Yet the magnitude of the pain index in sore claws was similar for medial (0.73±0.09) and lateral claws (0.64±0.02). The magnitude and frequency of claw pain in one hind limb was inconsistently and weakly affected by locomotion score or claw pain in the contralateral limb. The prevalence of unilateral (32.8%) and bilateral (23.3%) pain was similar and lower than the occurrence of bilaterally nonpainful claws (43.9%) in the study group. Painful claws (n=78) occurred on sound limbs (n=332) with a pain index (0.72±0.02) indicative of less pain than the pain index (0.61±0.02) of painful claws (n=130) on lame limbs (n=192). The results showed that lateral claw pain was related to ipsilateral limb locomotion score and subclinical pain was a relatively common occurrence. Objective measures of pain may provide a more reliable, continuous measure of clinical events used in modeling lameness.

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