Subclinical laminitis, an early pathological event in the development of many claw diseases, is an important factor in the welfare and economics of high-producing dairy cows. However, the aetiology and pathogenesis of this complex claw disease are not well understood. The present study investigated to what extent thermographic examination of claws is able to give information about corium inflammation, and whether the technique may be used as a diagnostic tool for early detection of subclinical laminitis. Moreover, the temperature distribution over the individual main claws was investigated to obtain further knowledge about pressure distribution on the claws. For this purpose the claws of 123 cows were evaluated in the first week after calving as well as after the second month of lactation for presence of sole haemorrhages (a sign of subclinical laminitis). Furthermore, the ground contact area was analysed by thermography. Sole haemorrhages were significantly increased by the second month of lactation. Thermography showed clear differences between the claws of the front limbs and hindlimbs, as well as between lateral and medial claws. Although the distribution of sole haemorrhages was consistent with the pattern of the temperature distribution over the main claws, no clear correlation was found between the claw temperature after calving and the visible laminitis-like changes (sole haemorrhages) eight weeks later.
- subclinical laminitis