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Observations of lameness, hoof conformation and development of lesions in dairy cattle over four lactations
  1. J. E. Offer, MIBiol, PhD1,
  2. D. N. Logue, BVM&S, PhD, FRCVS1 and
  3. D. McNulty, BSc, PhD, BIOSS2,1
  1. 1 Dairy Health Unit, SAC Veterinary Services, Auchincruive, Ayr KA5 6AE
  2. 2 Kings Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ


Lameness and lesions in the claws of 31 autumn-calving Holstein Friesian dairy cows were recorded from before their first-calving until their fifth lactation. The animals were managed by the same herdsman and housed adjacently in the same building in one of two herds grazed either on clover-rich pastures (herd 1) or on conventional ryegrass (herd 2). All four hooves were examined routinely four times during each lactation, and claw lesions were scored for severity and drawn on hoof maps. Heel erosion and infectious skin conditions of the hoof were also recorded, and hoof conformation, hardness, and growth and wear were measured. The animals' locomotion was scored weekly throughout the winter housing period and any observed to be lame were examined to determine the cause. The development of lesions was modelled by using hierarchic smoothing splines. There was no significant effect of herd except on the prevalence of lameness in lactation 2 when the incidence of (inter)digital dermatitis was higher in herd 2. Lesion and locomotion scores were significantly higher by lactation 4 (P<0.05). There were significant effects (P<0.05) of weeks postcalving on lesion formation, claw conformation, and heel erosion.

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