Cell proliferation and protein synthesis (keratinisation) were measured in vitro in hoof biopsy samples taken from two groups of seven heifers, the first calving in the winter and the second in the summer. Both parameters were significantly higher in summer than in winter irrespective of the heifers' reproductive state. The mean (se) measure of the rate of protein synthesis was 199 (27) dpm/μg DNA/hour in summer and 4 (1) dpm/μg DNA/hour in winter, and the equivalent values for cell proliferation (measured as DNA synthesis) were 375 (56) μm/pg DNA/hour and 17 (4) dpm/μg DNA/hour. Changes around parturition depended on the time of the year. In the winter-calving heifers, the rates of proliferation and keratinisation increased significantly after calving from 22.3 (7.2) to 70 4 (16.6) and from 2.1 (0.7) to 12.4 (2.8) dpm/μg DNA/hour, respectively. In the summer-calving heifers, proliferation decreased from 388.2 (91.0) to 66.7 (9.6) dpm/μg DNA/hour but the rate of keratinisation did not change. Lesion scores and locomotion scores deteriorated after parturition, especially in the winter-calving group. The hooves were harder in summer than winter but their hardness was not affected by the heifers' reproductive state.
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