Effect of mobility score on milk yield and activity in dairy cattle

J. D. Reader, M. J. Green, J. Kaler, S. A. Mason, L. E. Green*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have indicated that lame cows have reduced milk yield both before and after they are treated for lameness. One explanation for the reduction in yield before treatment is delay to treatment; that is, cows have impaired mobility for some time before they are treated. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis by investigating temporal associations between change in milk yield and change in mobility score. Mobility score (MS, on a scale from 0 to 3), milk yield, treatments for lameness, and cow activity were recorded on 312 cows in a dairy herd in Somerset, UK, for 1 yr. The MS was scored every 2 wk and compared with daily yield and activity (mean log steps/h) averaged over the previous 16 d. Approximately 52% of MS changed within 14 d, usually by 1 unit. Overall, milk yields of cows with MS 1 were greater than those of cows with other scores. Cows with MS 2 and 3 produced 0.7 (95% confidence interval: 0.35-0.97) and 1.6 (0.98-2.23) kg less milk/d, respectively, compared with cows with MS 1. In addition, cows with MS 1 were significantly more active than cows with MS 0, 2, or 3. Cows with MS 2 and 3 were 0.02 (0.01-0.03) and 0.03 (0.01-0.05) mean log steps less active than cows with MS 1. Six to 8 wk before nonlame cows became MS 2 or 3, their daily milk yield decreased by a mean (95% CI) of 0.5. kg (0.12-0.47) and 0.9. kg (0.16-1.65) respectively. Daily yield remained lower by 0.42. kg (0.09-0.75) for 4 wk after cows with MS 2 had recovered. The activity of cows was significantly less (0.01 mean log steps) with increasing MS; the associations between activity and parity (means 0.03-0.11) and month of lactation (means 0.03-0.36) were quantitatively larger. Results from a multistate model indicated that once cows were lame they remained lame or became lame again despite treatment. In conclusion, cows' milk production started to decline before their mobility was visibly impaired.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5045-5052
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Cow
  • Lameness
  • Milk yield
  • Multistate model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of mobility score on milk yield and activity in dairy cattle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this