Three new factsheets address the causes, prevention and treatment of each of the 3 most common dairy cattle claw lesions: digital dermatitis, sole ulcer and white line lesion. The factsheets are written in plain language, designed to help producers deal with these lesions.
There are 2 main causes of thin soles in dairy cattle:
1. an abrasive floor, particularly a new one in a barn cows have recently moved into;
2. excessive hoof trimming.
Without immediate intervention, some cows will completely lose the sole horn and the underlying corium, which is especially thin at the tip of the toe, will be uncovered. Therefore this area is very vulnerable for ascending infections. An alternative treatment for cattle with thin soles was presented at the recent Lameness Conference in Bristol UK.
Users of Hoof Supervisor® (HS) lesion recording software have an excellent pictorial, touch-screen based system for selecting hoof lesions, based on the claw zone where they appear. For others wanting to identify and deal with a lesion they see on inspection of a hoof, a web-based lesion selector similar to that used in the HS system will be helpful.
To assist trimmers to more consistently score lesion severity, Alberta hoof trimmers have created a Lesion Severity Scoring Guide containing example photos of each of 3 severity scores for 14 lesions.
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.
To investigate the association between locomotion score and the presence of hoof lesions, researchers examined 10,699 cows from 91 dairy herds in southern Chile. Locomotion score was recorded on a scale of 1-5 using the Sprecher system. Lesions were recorded by observation of all four feet with each cow standing in a metal crush. Locomotion scoring was a relatively insensitive method for the detection of some important claw lesions.
Dr. Dörte Döpfer at the University of Wisconsin, describes the dynamics of digital dermatitis infection as a cycle with 6 distinct stages.
Twenty-five professional hoof trimmers recorded hoof lesion occurrence in over 80,000 cows during regular trimming visits to 578 dairy farms in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Digital dermatitis and claw horn disruption accounted for 84% of all lesions observed.
A short video clip illustrating slow motion gait analysis reveals how walking on hard surfaces causes trauma to the claw leading to sole hemorrhage, white line lesions and sole ulcers.
Sole ulcers are among the most common causes of lameness in dairy cattle. Why are they so common?