Locomotion Traits

Scoring systems for measuring levels of ease of movement and locomotion in dairy cattle have been around for some time and HolsteinUKintroduced locomotion scoring in the late 1990s, as part of the conformation assessment used by breed societies. Trained breed society classifiers score the use of legs and feet, judging both length and direction of the step, on a scale of 1 to 9, where 1 is 'poor' and 9 is 'excellent'. This data is then analysed as part of the genetic evaluation process in order to 'score' that animal and its sire on the ability to breed offspring that move easily. This genetic data is published as the 'Locomotion' proof for bulls with daughters milking in theUK.

Holstein UK members can access the organisation's 'Virtual Cow' website, and view video demonstrations of examples of good, moderate and poor cow locomotion.

The implementation of Locomotion scoring by breed societies and the subsequent publication of locomotion as part of the bull proofs means that locomotion scoring is now widely-recognised as a breeding tool to describe and improve the ease of movement. However, locomotion does not specifically provide a means of measuring different degrees of lameness, which might occur due to injury or disease and which can be used to identify individual cases of lameness with a herd.

This has caused some confusion and lead to the creation of the DairyCo Mobility Scoring system, which differs to thelocomotionscoring systems used by breed societies. The DairyCo Mobility score simply assessing the cow's ability to move easily and defines varying degrees of lameness.