NCBI ROFL: The locomotion of dairy cows on concrete floors that are dry, wet, or covered with a slurry of excreta.

By ncbi rofl | March 23, 2010 7:00 pm

2864838911_e0772dbabd“Six dairy cows were trained to individually walk down a concrete aisle for a food reward. Their locomotion was then examined in a switchback experiment as the floor surface of the aisle was changed from dry to wetted concrete or concrete covered by shallow (5 cm) or deep (12.5 cm) slurry from cattle excreta…  Cow locomotion was measured over the second half of the aisle, and limb angles recorded as the cow passed a video camera. Wetting the floor did not affect the walking or stepping rate, but it reduced the arc made by the joints of the hindlimb during the supporting phase. Slurry caused the cows to keep their legs more vertical at the end of the support phase, probably to aid lifting the limb out of the slurry. It also caused the cows to place their forelimbs down less vertically at the start of the support phase, probably because of the reduced risk of slip in the slurry. When the floor was covered with either the deep or, to a lesser extent, the shallow slurry, the cows’ walking and stepping rates were reduced, and on the floor covered with deep slurry their step length was increased. Therefore slurry reduces the cow’s walking speed and alters limb angles during the support phase, producing a different walking pattern from cows on dry or wetted concrete.”


Photo: flickr/Arnoooo

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  • Dr. M. Eme

    what is this i don’t even

  • Tim Beauchamp

    I am waiting for the significance of the data. What does this mean? What is the researchers’ intent?

  • Joanna Cake

    I’m not sure I understand the significance of this experiment. You only have to watch a human trying to avoid dog do on a path to know that you have to place your feet very deliberately which changes the method of their locomotion.

  • ncbi rofl

    The free full text is available if you want to read the researchers’ rationale:

  • Scott

    I’m guess they did the study to figure out if cows are more likely to get injured on ramps (for transport and slaughter). I’m guessing the study shows it’s worth hosing the walkways down to remove feces but not really worth waiting for them to dry. I’m glad my research doesn’t require cow crap!

  • Rosie Redfield

    Dairy cows are now typically kept in open sheds with slatted concrete floors, rather than outside in nasty pastures. The excrement falls through the gaps into a holding tank, with the help of an automated floor cleaner (a barn-scale roomba). So this study is finding out how the cleanliness of the floor affects the cows.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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