- * Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1 Canada
- † Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1 Canada
- ‡ Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1 Canada
- § Département des Sciences Animales, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6 Canada
- # Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4 Canada
- Received 23 November 2015, Accepted 23 April 2016, Available online 16 June 2016
Leg injuries on dairy cows are a common and highly visible welfare concern on commercial dairy farms. With greater attention being placed on food animal welfare and limited research being conducted on tiestall farms, this study aimed to identify prevalence and risk factors for hock and knee injuries on dairy cows housed in tiestall barns in Ontario (n = 40) and Quebec (n = 60). A sample of 40 cows was purposively selected per farm and several animal- and farm-based measures were taken. Both hocks and both knees on each cow were scored as injured (presence of lesions or swelling) or not injured (no alterations or hair loss), and the highest score of each of the 2 knees and the 2 hocks was considered the cow’s hock or knee score. Possible animal- and farm-based risk factors were incorporated into 2 separate multivariable logistic models for hock injuries and knee injuries respectively at the cow level. Mean (±SD) percentage of cow with hock injuries per farm was found to be 56 ± 18% and mean percentage of knee injuries per farm was found to be 43 ± 23%. Animal-based factors found to be associated with a greater odds of hock injuries at the cow level were increased days in milk (DIM), lower body condition score (BCS), lameness, higher parity, higher cow width, median lying bout duration, and median number of lying bouts. Environmental factors found to be associated with hock injuries at the cow level were province, stall width, tie rail position, stall base, chain length, and age of stall base. Animal-based factors found to be associated with knee injuries at the cow level were DIM, BCS, and median lying time. Environmental factors found to be associated with knee injuries at the cow level were stall width, chain length, province, stall base, and bed length. Quadratic and interaction terms were also identified between these variables in both the hock and knee models. This study demonstrates that hock and knee injuries are still a common problem on tiestall dairy farms in Canada. Several animal- and housing-based factors contribute to their presence. Further research to confirm causal relationships between these factors would help identify the cause of knee and hock injuries and determine how to best reduce the incidence of injuries in cows on commercial tiestall dairy farms in Canada.
- dairy cow;
- hock injury;
- knee injury;
© 2016 American Dairy Science Association®.