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Effects of housing and intake of methionine on the growth and wear of hoof horn and the conformation of the hooves of first-lactation Holstein heifers
  1. C. T. Livesey, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS1 and
  2. R. A. Laven, BVetMed, PhD2
  1. 1 Veterinary Laboratories Agency — Weybridge, Woodham Lane, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT16 5NB
  2. 2 Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laven


This study investigated the effects of housing primiparous lactating Holstein heifers either in cubicles with butyl rubber mats, cubicles with thicker mattresses filled with chopped rubber, or straw yards, and supplementing them with methionine for the first 13 weeks of lactation on the rates of growth of their hoof horn and the conformation of their feet. Overall, the rate of growth of the hoof horn increased significantly after calving but the rate of wear did not increase. In contrast, the type of housing had no significant effect on the growth of the hoof horn, but the heifers in straw yards had significantly lower rates of lateral horn wear. The changes in growth and wear rates resulted in changes in hoof conformation, including the toe angle and the width of the bearing surface, which suggested that heel bulb hypertrophy occurred after the heifers had been moved from soft underfoot conditions on to concrete. Providing 115 per cent of their estimated methionine requirements had no significant effect on the rates of growth and wear of the hoof horn.

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