Cameras for healthy hooves

Lameness is one of the biggest animal well-being issues in cows. That’s why Wageningen University & Research (WUR) wants to respond to such discomfort at the earliest convenience. One way to do that is by equipping barns with cameras that use AI to detect lameness automatically, thus allowing researchers – and eventually farmers as well – to take even better care of their animals.

Lame cows are a tricky problem for farmers. The cows may be in a lot of pain, which is undesirable for ethical reasons, not to mention that cows in pain produce less milk. The lameness is usually the result of problems with the hooves, for example caused by an infection. Cows are at risk of Mortellaro’s disease – an inflammation of the hoof skin – if they have to walk on wet, dirty barn floors. The infectious disease is caused by bacteria that are transmitted from one cow to another via their environment. Hoof problems can also be caused by standing for a long time, for example because the places to lie down are uncomfortable or because the cows have to wait for milking.

Lameness is not a binary condition. To detect infections and problems walking at an early stage, WUR researchers have installed cameras and antennas in the Dairy Campus innovation centre.

Farmers can intervene sooner, and for example arrange for an extra pedicure for the hooves
Researcher Claudia Kamphuis