Lameness caused by hoof disorders is among the biggest challenges that face the dairy industry. Lameness is among the top three culling reasons after fertility and udder diseases. Hoof problems do not only cause pain and distress for dairy cattle, but also have a huge impact on the economy of dairy farms.
Veterinarian and medicine expenses
Costs of preventive measures
Lost milk production
Genetic impact from losing the potentially best-performing daughters
Extra time and labor costs
Costs of common hoof disorders per severe case in the Nordic countries are estimated to vary from 60 to 1310 EUR.
If your goal is to have healthy, high-producing and invisible cows that stay in the herd for several years, hoof health is an important issue that you can’t ignore.
There are many factors that have an impact on hoof health and the prevention of hoof disorders. Hoof trimming is a common management practice among dairy farmers for curing and preventing hoof diseases.
The environment also has a high influence on hoof health. Of course, management, for example, nutrition and feeding management and various preventive measures (e.g. foot baths, calcium hydroxide) have a high impact on hoof quality.
However, genetics also play a key role in dealing with hoof disorders.
Hoof trimmers register all “findings”, or all “no findings” on each hoof of every cow they trim. Using a tablet, it is nowadays an easy system and part of every hoof trimmer’s work. They register three different categories, 0 means no disease, 1 means mild disease and 2 means severe disease. The Hoof Health index describes the bull’s daughters’ genetic ability to resist hoof diseases. The Hoof Health index includes 10 hoof disorders grouped into seven sub-traits:
- Sole ulcer
- Sole haemorrhage
- Heel horn erosion
- Digital dermatitis + interdigital dermatitis
- Verrucose dermatitis + interdigital hyperplasia
- Double sole + White line separation
- Cork screw claw
The Hoof Health index is a better tool to breed for mobile cows than feet and legs conformation.