Characterisation of Claw–floor Contact Pressures for Standing Cattle and the Dependency on Concrete Roughness

Department of Structural Engineering, Ghent University, Gand, Flemish, Belgium
Biosystems Engineering (Impact Factor: 1.62). 07/2003; 85(3):339-346. DOI: 10.1016/S1537-5110(03)00064-3


Inadequate properties of concrete floors in livestock buildings seem to be an important cause of cattle lesions. High local pressures on claw tissues may contribute to damage of the claw. Monitoring of foot-to-ground pressure distributions may provide insight in the relation between high local pressures and foot lesions.In the current research, the pressure distribution of the foot-to-ground contact area was recorded using thin film tactile sensors. During the experiments, the sensor was located between previously prepared bovine claws and concrete samples with different surface roughness. The measurement procedure permitted a gradual increase in the vertical load on the claws at a test bench, while at the same time the contact area and the pressure distribution could be registered. Five different levels of surface roughness were obtained by finishing fresh concrete samples with a metal float, a wooden float or a brush, and by washing the concrete surface to two different degrees.The results showed a clear increase in contact area with increasing pressure. The abaxial wall and bulb of the claws had the major load-bearing function. The metal-floated concrete resulted in the largest contact area and the lowest pressures, while the washed concrete resulted in much smaller contact areas and higher pressures. Other finishing methods gave intermediate results.The maximum pressure under a load of 4 kN was about twice as high on a wooden-floated or lightly washed surface (around 40 MPa), compared to a metal-floated surface (around 20 MPa). On the severely washed out surface, the maximum pressure was even four to five times higher. This may indicate a higher risk on claw lesions due to local overload.

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    • ", the index of roughness of the floor of the freestall obtained from De Belie and Rombaut, (2003), and then the rules were in full transferred to the ultimate application in Visual Basic 6.0. All analysis to build the expert system was done using the procedure according to Girard and Merlo, 2003. "
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    ABSTRACT: From the middle of the 20th century, producers and genetics experts have intensified the work to improve dairy production. Advances have appeared, however, these results had not been followed by the improvement of cows’ hooves. The intensification of herds’ needs have been carried through housing modifications aiming to adjust them as well as to have them become more productive, leading to a larger concentration of animals, resulting in a bigger volume of dejects, higher humidity, less hygiene, and difficulties of handling. This scenario results in the sprouting of hoof pathologies. This research considered the development of a computational system for preventive diagnosis of confined dairy cattle hoof pathologies in freestall housing, for estimating the presence of laminitis. Clinical diagnosis of the laminitis is only possible by observing faulty locomotion; however, when the symptoms are apparent, the pathology is already in an advanced stage. A correlation with the nutritional factors of feed intake, the presence of abrasive pavements, climatic changes, and handling conditions had allowed the conversion of these data into linguistic terms, and the application of Fuzzy Logic inference algorithms based on a rule database to be used as the decision support process. The results showed that the expert system generates information of possible increases or decreases in laminitis development and also supplies recommendations for producers’ actions by making modifications in parameters regarding environmental conditions, feeding and handling management. The generated technology contributes for the reduction of the economic losses and leads to improvement in dairy cattle welfare.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Jan 2008
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    • "Most claw lesions stem from the claw-floor surface interface (Gitau et al., 1996; De Belie & Rombaut, 2003; Laech et al., 2005). The hardness/softness, smoothness/roughness and moisture load of the floor contributed significantly to the incidence of lameness. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this review is to highlight some of the repercussions of locomotive disorders in housed cattle. Some of the reasons for claw injuries are discussed, while the effect of housing and floor type on the claw health and animal welfare/comfort of animals is also conferred. It is argued that the economic implications of poor claw health are a combination of loss of production and the cost incurred in treatment of the injuries. In conclusion some preventative measures are proposed.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2007
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the thesis was to study influence of different flooring systems on several aspects of locomotion of dairy cows. To assess the gait on different floors, trackway analysis was used. Cows walking on a hard, slippery surface had shorter strides, wider posture and asymmetric steps. A hard, slippery surface resulted in stride shortening, wider posture and asymmetric gait. Using soft rubber mats made gait patterns more similar to those on a natural yielding surface such as sand. When cows with moderate lameness walked on yielding surfaces their gait parameters associated with lameness were less pronounced than on hard concrete surfaces. Preference studies showed that the majority of cows preferred to walk and stand on soft rubber flooring rather than on concrete flooring. However, lame cows within the group did not show a stronger preference to walk on soft flooring than non-lame cows, presumably due to lower social rank compared to healthy herd mates. In order to assess the effects of long-term exposure to flooring systems differing in hardness and abrasiveness installed in the walking and standing areas an experimental study was carried out. Claw conformation, claw horn growth and wear rates, as well as static weight and pressure distribution were evaluated. On a rougher flooring (mastic asphalt), exaggerated wear, highest growth rate and a loss of sole concavity was seen, and most weight was exerted to the sole area of the claws. When rubber-equipped feed-stalls were used together with mastic asphalt in alleys cows showed reduced wear, positive net growth and reduced loss of the concavity compared to cows housed on asphalt alley surfaces. In comparison with asphalt flooring, rubber mats on the alleys resulted in lower growth and wear rates, increased net growth, preserved sole concavity and the bulb and wall area of the claw carried the most weight. Rubber mats together with little exposure to an abrasive asphalt surface resulted in claw horn net growth rates similar to that observed on aged, low abrasive concrete slatted floor. It was concluded that soft flooring provides good locomotion comfort for dairy cows but a moderate abrasion is also required to prevent claw overgrowth.
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