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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 562501
Title The Impacts of Suboptimal Mobility in Pasture-based Dairy Systems
Author(s) O'Connor, Aisling; Bokkers, E.A.M.; Boer, Imke de; Hogeveen, Henk; Sayers, R.; Byrne, N.; Ruelle, E.; Shalloo, L.
Event WIAS Annual Conference 2020, Lunteren, 2020-02-13/2020-02-14
Department(s) Animal Production Systems
Business Economics
Publication type Unpublished lecture
Publication year 2020
Abstract Suboptimal mobility refers to any abnormality to a cow’s gait which causes a deviation
from the optimal walking pattern of a cow. Suboptimal mobility is an area of concern
from an economic, environmental and animal welfare point of view. While the potential
risk factors and impacts of suboptimal mobility in non-pasture-based systems are reported
on throughout the literature, the same information is lacking for seasonal calving, pasture-
based systems. The overall aim of this project was to determine the impacts of suboptimal
mobility in a pasture-based dairy system. To achieve this we determined 1) the
association between claw disorders and suboptimal mobility; 2) the cow and herd-level risk
factors associated with suboptimal mobility; 3) the production and reproductive impacts
associated with suboptimal mobility; 4) the economic and environmental consequences
of suboptimal mobility. Data from 11,116 cows from 68 Irish pasture-based dairy herds were
collected. Cows were mobility scored and body condition scored (BCS). Production data
(milk, fat, and protein yields, and somatic cell count), reproductive data (calving dates,
calving interval, and culling), and other cow-level data (breed type, and genetic transmitting
abilities for health and production traits) were available for each cow. Herd-level data
including cow path quality and maintenance practices, distances cows walk to and from
pasture each day, and foot bathing regimes on farm were collected for each herd via an
online survey completed by the herd owners. Our study showed that all severities of claw
disorders (ranging from mild to severe), are associated with specific mobility scores. Furthermore,
cows with higher yields, elevated SCC, less body condition, and cows with a genetic
predisposition for lameness are all potential risk factors for suboptimal mobility. We also
found that certain cow breeds such as Jersey type cows are associated with a reduced
risk for having suboptimal mobility. At the herd-level, both the quality of cow paths and the
distance cows must walk each day are associated with an increased proportion of suboptimal
mobility. Finally, herds with higher proportions of suboptimal mobility have lower economic
returns and higher total costs. These herds are also associated with increased green house
gas emissions per kg of fat and protein corrected milk yield.
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