Heart Rate Variability as an Indicator of Chronic Stress Caused by Lameness in Dairy Cows.
ABSTRACT: Most experimental studies on animal stress physiology have focused on acute stress, while chronic stress, which is also encountered in intensive dairy cattle farming--e.g. in case of lameness--, has received little attention. We investigated heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) as indicators of the autonomic nervous system activity and fecal glucocorticoid concentrations as the indicator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in lame (with locomotion scores 4 and 5; n = 51) and non-lame (with locomotion scores 1 and 2; n = 52) Holstein-Friesian cows. Data recorded during the periods of undisturbed lying--representing baseline cardiac activity--were involved in the analysis. Besides linear analysis methods of the cardiac inter-beat interval (time-domain geometric, frequency domain and Poincaré analyses) non-linear HRV parameters were also evaluated. With the exception of standard deviation 1 (SD1), all HRV indices were affected by lameness. Heart rate was lower in lame cows than in non-lame ones. Vagal tone parameters were higher in lame cows than in non-lame animals, while indices of the sympathovagal balance reflected on a decreased sympathetic activity in lame cows. All geometric and non-linear HRV measures were lower in lame cows compared to non-lame ones suggesting that chronic stress influenced linear and non-linear characteristics of cardiac function. Lameness had no effect on fecal glucocorticoid concentrations. Our results demonstrate that HRV analysis is a reliable method in the assessment of chronic stress, however, it requires further studies to fully understand the elevated parasympathetic and decreased sympathetic tone in lame animals.
Project description:Lameness affects dairy cows worldwide and is usually associated with pain. Behavioral differences in lame compared to non-lame tie-stall-housed dairy cows might be less pronounced than in free-stall-housed, since the principle demands to a cow's locomotor system and thus the impact of lameness on behavior seem to be lower in tie stalls. Behavioral differences between lame and non-lame cows might be used to estimate the impact of lameness on the well-being of tied dairy cows. In the current study, lame cows were categorized as locomotion scoring between 2.25 and 3.25 on a 1-5 scale. The aim was to compare the eating, rumination and lying behavior of lame cows against non-lame tied dairy cows, in order to draw conclusions on the association of lameness, behavior and well-being in tied dairy cows. The eating and rumination behavior of 26, the lying behavior of 30, and the relative upright and lying activities of 25 matched case-control pairs were analyzed, considering the matching criteria farm, breed-type, and parity-group. Lame cows had fewer [mean of the pairwise differences (case-control) (mean<sub>diff</sub>) = -2.6 bouts, CI<sub>95%</sub> (-3.8--1.4) bouts, <i>p</i> = 0.001], but longer lying bouts [mean<sub>diff</sub> = 26.7 min per bout, CI<sub>95%</sub> (10.1-43.4) min per bout, <i>p</i> = 0.006]. The lying time was shorter [mean<sub>diff</sub> = -64.7 min, CI<sub>95%</sub> (-104.4--24.9) min, <i>p</i> = 0.006] in lame cows compared to their non-lame controls. Lame cows had a shorter eating time [mean<sub>diff</sub> = -27.7 min, CI<sub>95%</sub> (-51.5--4.0) min, <i>p</i> = 0.042] and spent a larger proportion of their upright time ruminating [mean<sub>diff</sub> = 7.2%, CI<sub>95%</sub> (3.2-11.1)%, <i>p</i> = 0.001] instead of eating. The results of the current study indicate that the eating, rumination, and lying behavior of lame tied dairy cows is altered. These findings indicate that slight and moderate lameness (locomotion score between 2.25 and 3.25 on a 1-5 scale) are likely to be associated with an impaired well-being in affected tied dairy cows. This underlines the need to continuously reduce the lameness prevalence and severity in tied dairy herds.
Project description:Lameness in dairy cows is a worldwide prevalent disease with a negative impact on animal welfare and herd economy. Oxidative damage and antioxidant system dysfunction are common features of many CNS diseases, including chronic pain. The aim of this study was to evaluate the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative damage markers in the spinal cord of dairy cows with chronic inflammatory lameness. Locomotion score was performed in order to select cows with chronic lameness. Dorsal horn spinal cord samples were obtained post mortem from lumbar segments (L2-L5), and ROS, malondialdehyde (MDA), and carbonyl groups were measured along with the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and total antioxidant response (TAR). Lame cows had increased levels of ROS, MDA, and carbonyl groups, while no differences were observed between lame and non-lame cows in SOD, GPx, CAT, and TAR activity. We conclude that painful chronic inflammatory lameness in dairy cows is associated with an increase in ROS, MDA, and carbonyl groups. Nonetheless, an association between ROS generation and dysfunction of the antioxidant system, as previously proposed, could not be established.
Project description:This study was carried out to detect differences in locomotion and feeding behavior in lame (group L; n = 41; gait score ? 2.5) and non-lame (group C; n = 12; gait score ? 2) multiparous Holstein cows in a cross-sectional study design. A model for automatic lameness detection was created, using data from accelerometers attached to the hind limbs and noseband sensors attached to the head. Each cow's gait was videotaped and scored on a 5-point scale before and after a period of 3 consecutive days of behavioral data recording. The mean value of 3 independent experienced observers was taken as a definite gait score and considered to be the gold standard. For statistical analysis, data from the noseband sensor and one of two accelerometers per cow (randomly selected) of 2 out of 3 randomly selected days was used. For comparison between group L and group C, the T-test, the Aspin-Welch Test and the Wilcoxon Test were used. The sensitivity and specificity for lameness detection was determined with logistic regression and ROC-analysis. Group L compared to group C had significantly lower eating and ruminating time, fewer eating chews, ruminating chews and ruminating boluses, longer lying time and lying bout duration, lower standing time, fewer standing and walking bouts, fewer, slower and shorter strides and a lower walking speed. The model considering the number of standing bouts and walking speed was the best predictor of cows being lame with a sensitivity of 90.2% and specificity of 91.7%. Sensitivity and specificity of the lameness detection model were considered to be very high, even without the use of halter data. It was concluded that under the conditions of the study farm, accelerometer data were suitable for accurately distinguishing between lame and non-lame dairy cows, even in cases of slight lameness with a gait score of 2.5.
Project description:Lameness is a key health and welfare issue affecting commercial herds of dairy cattle, with potentially significant economic impacts due to the expense of treatment and lost milk production. Existing lameness detection methods can be time-intensive, and under-detection remains a significant problem leading to delayed or missed treatment. Hence, there is a need for automated monitoring systems that can quickly and accurately detect lameness in individual cows within commercial dairy herds. Recent advances in sensor tracking technology have made it possible to observe the movement, behaviour and space-use of a range of animal species over extended time-scales. However, little is known about how observed movement behaviour and space-use patterns in individual dairy cattle relate to lameness, or to other possible confounding factors such as parity or number of days in milk. In this cross-sectional study, ten lame and ten non-lame barn-housed dairy cows were classified through mobility scoring and subsequently tracked using a wireless local positioning system. Nearly 900,000 spatial locations were recorded in total, allowing a range of movement and space-use measures to be determined for each individual cow. Using linear models, we highlight where lameness, parity, and the number of days in milk have a significant effect on the observed space-use patterns. Non-lame cows spent more time, and had higher site fidelity (on a day-to-day basis they were more likely to revisit areas they had visited previously), in the feeding area. Non-lame cows also had a larger full range size within the barn. In contrast, lame cows spent more time, and had a higher site-fidelity, in the cubicle (resting) areas of the barn than non-lame cows. Higher parity cows were found to spend more time in the right-hand-side area of the barn, closer to the passageway to the milking parlour. The number of days in milk was found to positively affect the core range size, but with a negative interaction effect with lameness. Using a simple predictive model, we demonstrate how it is possible to accurately determine the lameness status of all individual cows within the study using only two observed space-use measures, the proportion of time spent in the feeding area and the full range size. Our findings suggest that differences in individual movement and space-use behaviour could be used as indicators of health status for automated monitoring within a Precision Livestock Farming approach, potentially leading to faster diagnosis and treatment, and improved animal welfare for dairy cattle and other managed animal species.
Project description:Lameness is a tremendous problem in intensively managed dairy herds all over the world. It has been associated with considerable adverse effects on animal welfare and economic viability. The majority of studies have evaluated factors associated with gait disturbance by categorising cows into lame and non-lame. This procedure yet entails a loss of information and precision. In the present study, we extend the binomial response to five categories acknowledging the ordered categorical nature of locomotion assessments, which conserves a higher level of information. A cumulative link mixed modelling approach was used to identify factors associated with increasing locomotion scores. The analysis revealed that a low body condition, elevated somatic cell count, more severe hock lesions, increasing parity, absence of pasture access, and poor udder cleanliness were relevant variables associated with higher locomotion scores. Furthermore, distinct differences in the locomotion scores assigned were identified in regard to breed, observer, and season. Using locomotion scores rather than a dichotomised response variable uncovers more refined relationships between gait disturbances and associated factors. This will help to understand the intricate nature of gait disturbances in dairy cows more deeply.
Project description:Chronic lameness affects bovine welfare and has a negative economic impact in dairy industry. Moreover, due to the translational gap between traditional pain models and new drugs development for treating chronic pain states, naturally occurring painful diseases could be a potential translational tool for chronic pain research. We therefore employed liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to stablish the proteomic profile of the spinal cord samples from lumbar segments (L2-L4) of chronic lame dairy cows. Data were validated and quantified through software tool (Scaffold® v 4.0) using output data from two search engines (SEQUEST® and X-Tandem®). Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins (STRING) analysis was performed to detect proteins interactions. LC-MS/MS identified a total amount of 177 proteins; of which 129 proteins were able to be quantified. Lame cows showed a strong upregulation of interacting proteins with chaperone and stress functions such as Hsp70 (p < 0.006), Hsc70 (p < 0.0079), Hsp90 (p < 0.015), STIP (p > 0.0018) and Grp78 (p <0.0068), and interacting proteins associated to glycolytic pathway such as; ?-enolase (p < 0.0095), ?-enolase (p < 0.013) and hexokinase-1 (p < 0.028). It was not possible to establish a clear network of interaction in several upregulated proteins in lame cows. Non-interacting proteins were mainly associated to redox process and cytoskeletal organization. The most relevant down regulated protein in lame cows was myelin basic protein (MBP) (p < 0.02). Chronic inflammatory lameness in cows is associated to increased expression of stress proteins with chaperone, metabolism, redox and structural functions. A state of endoplasmic reticulum stress and unfolded protein response (UPR) might explain the changes in protein expression in lame cows; however, further studies need to be performed in order to confirm these findings.
Project description:An important factor for animal welfare in cattle farming is the detection of lameness. The presented study is part of a project aiming to develop a system that is capable of an automated diagnosis of claw lesions by analyzing the footfall sound. Data were generated from cows walking along a measurement zone where piezoelectric sensors recorded their footfall sounds. Locomotion of the animals was scored and they were graded according to a three-scale scoring system (LS1 = non-lame; LS2 = uneven gait; LS3 = lame). Subsequently, the cows were examined by a hoof trimmer. The walking speed across the test track was significantly higher in cows with LS1 compared to those with LS2 and LS3 and thus, they were showing a smoother gait pattern. The standard deviation of volume (SDV) in the recorded footfall sound signal was considered as a factor for the force of a cow's footsteps. Cows with non-infectious claw lesions showed lower SDV than healthy cows and those with infectious claw diseases. This outcome confirmed the hypothesis that the evaluated cows affected by non-infectious claw lesions have a greater sensitivity to pain and demonstrate a less forceful gait pattern. These first results clearly show the potential of using footfall sound analysis for detecting claw lesions.
Project description:The possible changes in a panel of 21 salivary analytes on a population of cows with lameness before and after treating lameness by hoof trimming were analyzed. Then, the analytes that showed significant changes were studied in a larger population of cows with lameness and compared with healthy cows For this purpose, two groups of cows were made by a specialized veterinarian. One consisted of healthy cows with no external signs of diseases and no hematological or biochemical abnormalities, and showing no signs of lameness according to the numerical rating system of severity (NRS, 5-point scale); and the other composed of cows showing only lameness with a NRS of 3.1 ± 0.87 and a lesion scoring system (LSS, 4-point scale) of 3.3 ± 0.89. Both groups did not differ in parity (<i>p</i> = 0.140), days in milk (DIM) (<i>p</i> = 0.780), and body condition score (BCS) (<i>p</i> = 0.074). Initially, 21 biochemical analytes were determined in the saliva of six cows with lameness at the diagnosis time (T0) and twenty days after hoof trimming that successfully solved the lameness (TF). This exploratory study only showed significantly higher values in lipase (Lip) and total esterase (TEA) at T0 compared to TF (<i>p</i> < 0.001 and <i>p</i> = 0.034, respectively). When both analytes were measured in the additional five lame cows and the results of all the animals of the lame group (n = 11) were compared with the healthy group (n = 11), only TEA showed higher activities in the group of lame cows than healthy cows (<i>p</i> = 0.004). TEA was positively correlated with both NRS and LSS (r = 0.43, <i>p</i> = 0.004 and r = 0.35, <i>p</i> = 0.003). In conclusion, this study showed that cows with lameness in our experimental conditions had higher TEA values than healthy cows, and these values decreased after treatment. This is a pilot study, and further studies using a larger population of cows with lameness due to different causes and severity should be performed to determine the potential of TEA as a biomarker of lameness in cows.
Project description:<b>Background:</b> The objectives of this study were to, (1) investigate the impact of the Dutch five-step hoof trimming (HT) technique on time to lameness and hoof lesion prevalence in grazing (GR) and non-grazing (NGR) dairy cows, and (2) determine the association between potential benefits of HT and animal-based welfare measures during lactation. A total of 520 non-lame cows without hoof lesions from 5 dairy farms (GR = 2, NGR = 3) were enrolled at early (within 30 days in milk; DIM) and late lactation (above 200 DIM), and randomly allocated to either trimmed (HGR or HNGR) or control groups (CON-GR and CON-NGR). Locomotion scores, body condition, hock condition, leg hygiene, and hoof health were assessed at monthly intervals until the following 270 days in milk. The data were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, multivariable Cox, and logistic regression models. The overall incidence rate of lameness was 36.2 cases/100 cows/month, with corresponding rates of 27.4, 31.9, 48.4, and 45.8 cases/100 cows/month in HGR, HNGR, CON-GR, and CON-NGR, respectively. Time to first lameness event was significantly higher in HGR (mean ± S.E; 8.12 ± 0.15) compared to CON-GR (7.36 ± 0.26), and in HNGR (8.05 ± 0.16) compared to CON-NGR (7.39 ± 0.23). The prevalence of hoof lesions in the enrolled cows was 36.9%, with a higher occurrence in CON-GR (48.8%) than HGR (23.2%), and in CON-NGR (52.6%) compared to HNGR (32.2%). The majority of hoof lesions were non-infectious in grazing (HGR vs. CON-GR; 21.3 vs. 33.3%) and non-grazing herds (HNGR vs. CON-NGR; 25.0 vs. 40.4%). The risk of lameness was higher in underconditioned cows (Hazard ratio; HR = 3.1, 95% CI 1.2-7.4), presence of hoof lesion (HR = 33.1, 95% CI 17.6-62.5), and there was variation between farms. Aside HT, lower parity (OR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.8), normal hock condition (OR = 0.06; 95% 0.01-0.29), and absence of overgrown hoof (OR = 0.4; 95% 0.2-0.7) were protective against non-infectious hoof lesions. Functional HT is beneficial as a lameness preventive strategy during lactation; however, ensuring older cows are in good body condition and free from hock injuries are equally important.
Project description:Automatic milking systems (AMS) are a low-labour alternative to conventional parlours, with previous studies demonstrating that cows vary in their ability to cope with the change to AMS. Cortisol expression can be combined with other measures to assess stress: saliva and hair have the advantage of requiring minimally invasive sampling. No work has investigated the long-term impact of introduction of AMS. The aims of the study were to assess short-term and chronic stress associated with a change in milking system by measuring salivary and hair cortisol levels and to assess the impact on health and production parameters. Cows from one farm changing their milking system were recruited to the study and sampled for saliva (n = 10) and hair (n = 12) before and after installation. Cortisol levels were measured using a salivary cortisol enzyme immunoassay kit. Body condition, lameness and milk parameters of the whole herd were regularly assessed. Salivary cortisol showed no diurnal pattern but was affected by lameness and gestation. Non-lame cows showed a reduction in salivary cortisol after AMS introduction (p < 0.001). Hair cortisol levels increased after AMS, but it was unclear if this change was seasonal. Milk yield increased by 13% and somatic cell count reduced by 28%. Body condition score was consistently good, but lameness remained high throughout the study. Production values alone do not represent high welfare. The high lameness and associated cortisol levels suggest that cow stress requires consideration when changing milking systems.