Manual and automatic locomotion scoring systems in dairy cows: A review

Andrés Schlageter-Tello, Eddie A.M. Bokkers, Peter W.G.Groot Koerkamp, Tom Van Hertem, Stefano Viazzi, Carlos E.B. Romanini, Ilan Halachmi, Claudia Bahr, Daniël Berckmans, Kees Lokhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The objective of this review was to describe, compare and evaluate agreement, reliability, and validity of manual and automatic locomotion scoring systems (MLSSs and ALSSs, respectively) used in dairy cattle lameness research. There are many different types of MLSSs and ALSSs. Twenty-five MLSSs were found in 244 articles. MLSSs use different types of scale (ordinal or continuous) and different gait and posture traits need to be observed. The most used MLSS (used in 28% of the references) is based on asymmetric gait, reluctance to bear weight, and arched back, and is scored on a five-level scale. Fifteen ALSSs were found that could be categorized according to three approaches: (a) the kinetic approach measures forces involved in locomotion, (b) the kinematic approach measures time and distance of variables associated to limb movement and some specific posture variables, and (c) the indirect approach uses behavioural variables or production variables as indicators for impaired locomotion.Agreement and reliability estimates were scarcely reported in articles related to MLSSs. When reported, inappropriate statistical methods such as PABAK and Pearson and Spearman correlation coefficients were commonly used. Some of the most frequently used MLSSs were poorly evaluated for agreement and reliability. Agreement and reliability estimates for the original four-, five- or nine-level MLSS, expressed in percentage of agreement, kappa and weighted kappa, showed large ranges among and sometimes also within articles. After the transformation into a two-level scale, agreement and reliability estimates showed acceptable estimates (percentage of agreement ≥75%; kappa and weighted kappa ≥0.6), but still estimates showed a large variation between articles. Agreement and reliability estimates for ALSSs were not reported in any article.Several ALSSs use MLSSs as a reference for model calibration and validation. However, varying agreement and reliability estimates of MLSSs make a clear definition of a lameness case difficult, and thus affect the validity of ALSSs. MLSSs and ALSSs showed limited validity for hoof lesion detection and pain assessment.The utilization of MLSSs and ALSSs should aim to the prevention and efficient management of conditions that induce impaired locomotion. Long-term studies comparing MLSSs and ALSSs while applying various strategies to detect and control unfavourable conditions leading to impaired locomotion are required to determine the usefulness of MLSSs and ALSSs for securing optimal production and animal welfare in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-25
Number of pages14
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Agreement
  • Animal welfare
  • Locomotion score
  • Reliability
  • Sensors
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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