The reason for the appearance of lameness in cows can be very complex, since most of the factors involved are related to each other. However, the main reason why cows develop lameness is, very often, the fact that the surface that supports the weight of cows when walking (hooves or digits) is affected or unbalanced.
Overloading the cow’s hoof due to excessive wear or growth can result in a sensitive, unstable and more prone to lameness. Therefore, it is necessary to check and trim the hooves of the cows for two reasons:
- To restore an adequate distribution of weight over and between the digits of each foot
- To identify early hoof injuries
It is important to keep in mind that not all the cows examined will need a clipping of hooves, since excessive clipping can lead to a higher incidence of lameness.
Always remember that improper treatment of the hooves in the cattle, including horses, is among the major reasons that cause the premature loss of an animal. Here at Victorian Hoof Care Services we’ll be happy to assist you.
What is a hoof injury?
The knowledge of hoof lesions in cattle continues in development. These seem to be an alteration of the normal growth of the helmet as a result of the pressure in the chorion. Previously, this increase in pressure was considered due to the inamatorios mediators in the bloodstream of a rumen acidosis
Subacute that acted on the lamellae of the hoof. However, this seems increasingly unlikely and, at present, it is thought that the increase in pressure. It is caused by physical factors, particularly around childbirth, since the support structures of the hoof relax.
There is also increasing evidence that the loss of body condition score around the time of delivery may contribute to the disease, reducing the protection capacity of the digital pad. The digital pad is a fatty layer that lies between the bones of the phalanges and the sole of the foot of bovines. The result of increased pressure is an alteration of the growth of the helmet sole most commonly at the site of the bone’s exion.
Hoof trimming technique in four steps
Proper hoof trimming forms the basis of a comprehensive foot health program. The recognition of certain basic points of the clipping of hooves will help reduce the risk of lameness caused by clipping errors
The following is a general description of the procedure for functional trimming of the hoof in four steps, which is a slight modification of the original Dutch procedure in three steps developed by E. Toussaint Raven. This process should be applied in four steps during the evaluations of each and every foot of the cow to avoid excessive clipping. This process of functional trimming can be used to treat hoof injuries. It is strongly recommended that all hoof trim on a dairy farm be carried out by trained personnel only.
Step 1: Tip length
Begin by measuring the distance from the front wall (just below the hairline to the tip of the toe) of the inner digit of the hind legs.
Anything that exceeds 7.5 cm (3 inches) should be removed by making a cut perpendicular to the sole. Once this is done, the end of the tip will have a square shape.
First trim the internal digits of the back legs to the correct length and then the external digits to the same length. Repeat this process by trimming the front legs, starting with the outer digits.
Tip related to trimming: 7.5 cm (three inches) is the appropriate tip length for the average Holstein cow. For large cows and bulls, the appropriate length of the tip is 8.125 cm (3.25 inches). Never leave less than 7.5 cm (3 inches), unless it is a heifer.
Step 2: Thickness of the sole
The length of the digit and the thickness of the sole at the tip are directly related. The thickness of the sole should be measured at the tip of the finger, where the cut was made. Anything that exceeds 0.625 cm (0.25 inches) should be removed.
The sole should be trimmed flat from front to back. Avoid removing corneal tissue from the heel the digits / inner back fingers. Be sure to leave a thickness of 0.625 cm (0.25 inch) on the tip.
Avoid trimming hooves that are less than 7.5 cm (3 inches) in length or whose sole is less than 0.625 cm (0.25 inches) thick. In these situations, only the outer back digit should be trimmed to correct excessive growth and imbalance.
Advice related to trimming: the thickness of the sole should never be less than 0.625 cm (0.25 in). The sole should not be flexible when pressed with the thumb.
Step 3: Depth of the heel
The depth of the heel should be measured at the junction between the heel and the wall (external face of the digit), from just below the hairline to the bottom of the sole. Trim corneal heel tissue only when this measurement is greater than 3.75 cm (1.5 inches).
Tip related to trimming: Try to keep a depth of 3.75 cm (1.5 inches). The depth of the heel is usually insufficient in cows that are stabled in facilities with concrete floors.
Step 4: Balance between the digit and the heel
Through the trimming process, a flat surface capable of supporting the weight of the animal between the internal and external digits / fingers should be obtained. Caution: the sole should not be flexible when pressed with the thumb as a result of the cut
Evaluate the balance between the digit / finger and the heel: hold the front walls of the two digits / fingers and place a flat object on top of both fingers, on both heels and between the tip and heel of both digits. For measurements of the heel and tip to the heel no light should be visible below the flat surface.
Remember that improper treatment of the hooves in the cattle is among the major reasons that cause the premature loss of an animal. Here at Victorian Hoof Care Services we’ll be happy to assist you.