The relationships between social behaviour of dairy cows and the occurrence of lameness in three herds.


It is well known that lameness in cattle has a multifactorial causation, however it is still not clear why some individuals are more susceptible to foot lesions in the same environment. Behaviour is thought to play an important role. The aim of this study was to assess the relationships between social and individual behaviour and the incidence of lameness in three dairy herds. Low-ranking cows spent less time lying and more time standing still and standing half in the cubicles than middle- and high-ranking cows. As time spent standing half in the cubicle increased, the number of soft tissue lesions increased and as total time standing increased the number of cases of lameness increased. The survival rate to lameness for low-ranking cows was significantly lower than for middle- or high-ranking individuals.