A Simple Method of Locomotion Scoring

The locomotion scoring system described below is based on the observation of cows standing and walking (gait), with special emphasis on their back posture. This system is intuitive and, therefore, easy to learn and implement. Animal observations should be made on a flat surface that provides good footing for cows. Cows scoring 2 or 3 should be examined and trimmed to prevent more serious problems. Trimming should be done by a competent trimmer with the goal of returning the claws to functional weight bearing and conformation.

Locomotion Score 1
Stands and walks normally with a level back. Makes long, confident strides.
Locomotion Score 2
Mildly Lame
Stands with flat back, but arches when walks. Gait is slightly abnormal.
Locomotion Score 3
Moderately Lame
Stands and walks with an arched back and short strides with one or more legs. Slight sinking of dew-claws in limb opposite to the affected limb may be evident.
Locomotion Score 4
Arched back standing and walking. Favoring one or more limbs but can still bear some weight on them. Sinking of the dew-claws is evident in the limb opposite to the affected limb.
Locomotion Score 5
Severely Lame
Pronounced arching of back. Reluctant to move, with almost complete weight transfer off the affected limb.
adapted from Sprecher, D.J.; Hostetler, D.E.; Kaneene, J.B. 1997. Theriogenology 47:1178-1187
with contributions from Berry, S.L., University of California and Cook, N.B., University of Wisconsin.