Could you spot a score 2 cow?

Could you spot a score 2 cow?
By Hanneke Officer, Veterinarian, Healthy Hoof Advisor

To be clear: we’re NOT talking BCS score 2 cow here – that is a sight we do not ever want to see. We’re talking about lameness score 2.

Why does it matter?

  • Lameness scoring or locomotion scoring ranges from score 0 through to 3, with 0 being non lame and score 3 three-legged lame. Score 1 cows are walking unevenly possibly with a slightly arched back and head bob when walking. Score 2 cows are lame, meaning they are favouring a leg, arching their back and bobbing the head. Follow this link to have a look at a DairyNZ video which explains this really well and helps you recognize these scores: https://bit.ly/2MDYnpG
  • Score 3 cows are easy to recognize, however take a lot of time to treat and will have reduced production and compromised reproduction while affected and during recovery. Recognising a score 2 cow will therefore save money, time and reduce the chance of culling for lameness.

What does a score 2 cow look like?

  • Walking slower than normal.
  • Shortened stride – normally the back foot will land in the same spot as the front feet. This way, by conscious placement of the front foot to avoid stones, this will protect the back foot. When a cow is lame, the back foot will fall short of the front foot placement.
  • Favouring a leg – this results in uneven weight bearing.
  • The backbone looks arched when walking and standing.
  • The head moves up and down – the weight of the head helps divert weight away from the sore leg. The head moves up when a sore front foot is touching the ground; the head moves down when a sore back foot is touching the ground.
Transport certification regulations specify cows with a score 0 and 1 are fit for transport, but cows with a lameness score 2 need veterinary certification. Score 3 cows can not be transported.

Train yourself and your staff to spot subtle differences in walking by observing the herd on your farm track. In time you will recognize changes and be able to draft cows earlier for treatment, sparing them a lot of pain.

If you would like some help with locomotion scoring training or if you would like one of our vets to score your herd, please contact your clinic.


Date Added: Tuesday, 5th March 2019


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