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5 Jan 2024 - NTM Unlocked #14

Breed for better hoof health

Lameness is among the top culling reasons in dairy cows. Good hoof health is vital for the well-being and comfort of dairy cows and herd profitability.

But have you ever wondered what improvement you could get by using a bull with high breeding values for Hoof Health sub-indices?

Let’s look at the costliest of hoof disorders – sole ulcer.

A severe case of sole ulcer is estimated to cost 1,300 € under Nordic conditions. The daughters of a bull with an estimated breeding value (EBV) of 120 in the Sole ulcer sub-trait under the Hoof Health index will be less likely to suffer sole ulcer cases than the breed average.

Holstein cow hooves

Hoof health index

The difference between bulls can be very significant. For example, a VikingHolstein bull with an EBV 120 for Sole ulcer means 93% fewer cases of sole ulcer relative to the population average.

What does that reduction mean in real life? Let’s take an example of two farms with Holstein cows:

  • Farm A has 500 cows, of which 10% have a sole ulcer in a year = 50 cases.
  • Farm B has 500 cows, of which 40% have a sole ulcer in a year = 200 cases. 

A bull with EBV 120 for the Sole ulcer sub-trait can reduce the disease frequency so that farm A will go from 50 to 4 cases of sole ulcer per year, and farm B will go from 200 to 14.

Another common hoof disorder is digital dermatitis. An EBV 120 for digital and interdigital dermatitis sub-trait will mean 29% fewer cases than the population average.

If improving your herd’s hoof health is one of your priorities, you can trust the NTM’s Hoof health index!

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Hoof health index NTM

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