Using the Footfall Sound of Dairy Cows for Detecting Claw Lesions
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.