Evaluating alternatives to locomotion scoring for lameness Detection in pasture-based dairy cows in New Zealand: Infra-red thermography

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Lameness in cattle is a complex condition with huge impacts on welfare, and its detection is challenging for the dairy industry. The present study aimed to evaluate the association between foot skin temperature (FST) measured using infrared thermography (IRT) and locomotion scoring (LS) in dairy cattle kept at pasture. Data were collected from a 940-cow dairy farm in New Zealand. Cows were observed at two consecutive afternoon milkings where LS was undertaken at the first milking (4-point scale (0–3), DairyNZ). The next day, cows were thermally imaged from the plantar aspect of the hind feet using a handheld T650sc forward-looking infrared camera (IRT). The association between FST and locomotion score was analysed using a generalised linear model with an identity link function and robust estimators. ROC curves were performed to determine optimal threshold tem- perature cut-off values by maximising sensitivity and specificity for detecting locomotion score ≥ 2. There was a linear association between individual locomotion scores and FST. For mean temperature (MT), each one-unit locomotion score increase was associated with a 0.944 ◦ C rise in MT. Using MT at a cut-off point of 34.5 ◦ C produced a sensitivity of 80.0% and a specificity of 92.4% for identifying cows with a locomotion score ≥ 2 (lame). Thus, IRT has a substantial potential to be used on-farm for lameness detection. However, automation of the process will likely be necessary for IRT to be used without interfering with farm operations.


Journal Article


lameness, infrared thermography, locomotion scoring, dairy cows, pasture-based


Werema, C.W.; Laven, L.; Mueller, K.; Laven, R. Evaluating Alternatives to Locomotion Scoring for Lameness Detection in Pasture-Based Dairy Cows in New Zealand: Infra-Red Thermography.