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Use of infrared thermography to detect digital dermatitis in dairy cows

M. Alsaaod, C. Syring, J. Dietrich, M. G. Doherr, T. Gujan, A. Steiner

DIGITAL dermatitis (DD) is a major cause of lameness in dairy cattle. Diagnosis of DD is generally conducted visually during claw trimming or by locomotion scoring. Infrared thermography is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that measures the surface temperature of an object and represents it in a thermal colour map. This study aimed to evaluate the use of infrared thermography to detect DD lesions in dairy cows and to determine an optimal temperature cut off value.

A total of 149 cows from eight tie-stall dairy farms in Switzerland were included in the study. Clinical diagnosis of foot lesions was undertaken visually by two trained participants. Infrared thermography images were also taken in a closed, indoor environment before claw-trimming. Images were taken of two parts of the claw: the junction between the skin and the horn (CB) and the skin. The maximal temperatures of both areas were then determined. A total of 1192 observations were collected.

Feet with DD had significantly higher CB and skin maximal temperatures than healthy feet. Skin maximal temperature was significantly higher in feet with infectious lesions compared to those with non-infectious lesions. …

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