Unravelling the temporal association between lameness and body condition score in dairy cattle using a multistate modelling approach
Lim, P.Y. and Huxley, J.N. and Willshire, J.A. and Green, M.J. and Othman, A.R. and Kaler, J. (2015) Unravelling the temporal association between lameness and body condition score in dairy cattle using a multistate modelling approach. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 118 (4). pp. 370-377. ISSN 0167-5877
Recent studies have reported associations between lameness and body condition score (BCS) in dairy cattle, however the impact of change in the dynamics of BCS on both lameness occurrence and recovery is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate in a longitudinal study the effect of change in BCS on the transitions from the non-lame to lame, and lame to non-lame states. A total of 731 cows with 6889 observations from 4 UK herds were included in the study. Mobility score (MS) and body condition score (BCS) were recorded every 13-15 days from July 2010 until December 2011. A multilevel multistate discrete time event history model was built to investigate the transition of lameness over time. There were 1042 non-lame episodes and 593 lame episodes of which approximately 50% (519/1042) of the non-lame episodes transitioned to the lame state and 81% (483/593) of the lame episodes ended with a transition to the non-lame state. Cows with a lower BCS at calving (BCS Group 1 (1.00-1.75) and Group 2 (2.00-2.25)) had a higher probability of transition from non-lame to lame and a lower probability of transition from lame to non-lame compared to cows with BCS 2.50-2.75 i.e. they were more likely to become lame and if lame, they were less likely to recover. Similarly, cows who suffered a greater decrease in BCS (compared to their BCS at calving) had a higher probability of becoming lame and a lower probability of recovering in the next 15 days. An increase in BCS from calving was associated with the converse effect i.e. a lower probability of cows moving from the non-lame to the lame state and higher probability of transition from lame to non-lame. Days of lactation, months of calving and parity was associated with both lame and non-lame transitions and there was evidence of heterogeneity among cows in lameness occurrence and recovery. This study suggests loss of BCS and increase of BCS could influence the risk of becoming lame and the chance of recovery from lameness. Regular monitoring and maintenance of BCS on farms could be a key tool for reducing lameness. Further work is urgently needed in this area to allow a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms behind these relationships.
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