Body weight is a useful tool for detecting lameness at an early stage. The cow's body weight is measured at each milking in the Lely Astronaut milking robot. Although this is very useful as a parameter to assess animal health, a cow’s weight fluctuates throughout the day due to feed intake, drinking, defecating and urinating. Normal physiological variations can be as much as 132 lbs.
Body weight attentions
T4C 3.0 generates attentions to body weight loss through applying a dynamic formula. The report “Condition-Weight Attentions” shows cows with attentions for:
- Total weight loss over a continuous period;
- Daily weight loss from one day to another.
Figure 1: Example of the report “Condition-Weight Attentions” in T4C 3.0; “attention both” refers to an attention on total weight loss and on daily weight loss
Weight settings in T4C
The settings for the weight attentions can be changed in the T4C menu following the steps: Data Entry – Settings – Milking – Attention.
Figure 2: Default attention settings for body weight in T4C 3.0
1. Total weight loss
The attention on total weight loss is a handy management tool and is useful in monitoring transition management. If too many cows get an attention for total weight loss during early lactation, this indicates that the transition period is not optimal and that animals are in a too severe negative energy balance (NEB). A cow appearing on this list needs special attention, for example treatment with propylene glycol to improve energy balance.
The threshold for this attention is set at 8% of the body weight, which for a cow of 1,433 lbs corresponds to 114 lbs and equals on average a loss of 1 point in body condition score (BCS) on a scale from 1 to 5.
2. Daily weight loss
The attention on daily weight loss is an early indicator of diseases associated with loss of body weight such as (acute) lameness or indicates metabolic disorders. It allows a faster and earlier intervention before cows become really ill, thereby preventing loss of milk yield, treatment costs etc. The threshold for this attention is set at 0.8% which corresponds to 8-11 lbs loss of body weight.
Daily weight loss is a possible indicator for (acute) lameness. After detecting lameness, take effective action to prevent negative effects on cow health. To improve claw health and to minimise claw disorders regular application of foot baths is useful.
Tips and tricks
- Body weight is a handy management tool for – among other things – detecting lameness
- Most important factors for optimal hoof health are: excellent hoof quality, correct hoof shape, clean and dry hooves, flat floors, soft cubicle surfaces
- Preventive hoof trimming and claw bathing are important tools to decrease the incidence of hoof problems