Are you locomotion-scoring your cows?

If you aren’t locomotion-scoring your cows, you may want to consider making it part of your management practices. Locomotion scoring, as well as effective prevention and management of lameness is going to play an increasingly important role in the dairy industry, says Ernest Hovingh, extension veterinarian with Penn State.


Lameness is a significant animal well-being concern and animal welfare certification programs often contain criteria for locomotion scoring.


Possible questions posed by animal welfare auditing programs are:

  • Do no more than 3 percent of the animals in the herd slip or fall?
  • Does no more than 3 percent of the herd exhibit a locomotion score of greater than three?
  • Do the parlor and holding pen have non-slip surfaces?

One animal welfare certification program originally proposed that 85 percent of the herd have a locomotion score of one. They have since adjusted it to be that no more than 15 percent of the animals can score a 3, 4, or 5.


A locomotion score of 1 is considered completely normal, 5’s can hardly move and 4’s are obviously lame. “The 2’s and 3’s are cows that producers often miss since they walk a little bit abnormally, but are not obviously limping,” says Hovingh.


For more information on how to implement locomotion-scoring in your herd, go to: