Innovative technology cuts cattle mobility problems by half

Animal Health

Being able to identify early signs of lameness in cows, using technology, can minimize the quantity of cattle which have seriously weakened or damaged mobility by up to 75%.

A farm called Erw Fawr, close to Holyhead, has been testing innovative technology which analyses information on how cows move.

“Being able to identify early signs of lameness in cows, using technology, can minimize the quantity of cattle which have seriously weakened or damaged mobility by up to 75%“

The cattle go beneath the closed-circuit television (CCTV)which takes a scan. The new CattleEye program chooses various aspects of the animal to make up a mobility score, this then contributes to a profile that shows the mobility of the cattle. This enabled Ceredig Evans, a farmer at Etw Fawr, to address the issue prior to developing into something more serious in his group of 300 Holsteins (cows which produce more milk than any other dairy breed).

Traditional security cameras are able to be used to assess mobility of the herd using just the internet, that means it does not need to use other hardware like pedometers and cow collars to be able to detect a change in the cow's mobility.

Professor George Oikonomou, a specialist in cattle lameness, conducted a trial using the AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) scoring system. The results found that over 25% experienced problems regarding mobility, almost 6% reached score 3- meaning they have seriously damaged mobility.

After the study, Mr Evans changes the regularity of foot trimming from once per month to twice per month. After a period of half a year, the quantity of cows with problems concerning mobility went down by over 13%. On top of this, there was a 5% reduction in the quantity of cattle with the AHDB score of 3.

Mr Evans said “I always say that if cows have healthy feet and a healthy udder, everything else comes together. From a farmer and a milk contract point of view, it is important, but from an economic one, it makes sense to have healthier cows. Every job needs time and effort and to have technology that does the job for you means it gets done.’’

Professor Oikonomou said “We know from research with farmers that often their perception of a lame cow is one that stays behind, that can’t keep up with the rest of the herd. But a lot of cows will have early stages of lameness that will not been seen unless you are mobility-scoring them. CattleEye is possibly one of the ways to address that issue"

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