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Hoof health for dairy
and beef cattle

Why hoof health matters?

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.

The costs related to lameness

The costs related to lameness are enormous and include for example: 
  • Fertility problems
  • Veterinarian and medicine expenses
  • Costs of preventive measures
  • Lost milk production
  • Culling costs
  • 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.

What is lameness costing you?

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 Health Index

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.