Gerard Cramer’s research group recently surveyed published research studies that examined the effects of hoof trimming on animal behaviour, physiologic changes and efficacy in reducing lameness. Although these studies revealed that hoof trimming may initiate a stress response, change behaviour, improve components of weight bearing, and reduce lameness in specific environmental conditions, few of the studies described the trimming method used in enough detail to determine effects of method on any of these outcomes.
Although it is commonly believed that the primary cause of claw horn lesions in dairy cattle is rumen acidosis, resulting from the feeding of highly fermentable diets, there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support this idea. Recent research supports alternative explanations.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK have shown that untreated sole hemorrhage, sole ulcers and white line lesions can lead to excess bone development at the caudal end of the pedal bone, resulting in chronic lameness.
Zinpro has recently released a new book and app dealing with beef and dairy cattle hoof health. ‘Cattle Lameness: Identification, Prevention and Control of Claw Lesions’ is a Zinpro-led industry effort to assist cattle producers in improving animal wellness through the prevention of lameness.
In his past 30 years of hoof trimming, Vic Daniel has seen digital dermatitis (DD) become by far the most common hoof lesion in his clients’ herds. Vic has kept detailed records of the claws he has trimmed—for the past 7 years using the Hoof Supervisor® lesion recording system. Here are what Vic has concluded are the main risk factors for DD.
Dr. Ernest Hovingh, an Extension Veterinarian at Penn State University, has contributed 2 excellent webinars on dairy cattle lameness. Both webinars extend from details of hoof anatomy to best management practices aimed at promoting hoof health.
Current recommendations for the length of the dorsal hoof wall after trimming range from 60 to 85 mm; the most common recommendation being 75 mm. A British research study that examined internal claw structure using x-ray computed tomography (CT scan) suggests that the minimum external dorsal claw length recommendation should be increased to at least 90 mm for Holstein-Friesian cows over 4 years of age and at least 85 mm for younger cows.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have demonstrated that acute digital dermatitis (DD) in 16 – 25 month old heifers can increase heel height, claw angle and depth of the interdigital cleft. DD lesions were also associated with significant increases in heel horn erosion.
A study by researchers at Cornell University examined the association between claw horn lesions and the thickness of the digital cushion. Results suggest that thin digital cushions, related to low body condition score, may be a factor in the development of sole ulcers and white line lesions.
An excerpt from a video produced by the University of Zurich illustrates a claw trimming strategy aimed at achieving balance between inner and outer claws to minimize trauma to the corium.