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4 May 2021

Hoof health key management practices

Hoof health has a great impact on the well-being of cows and on the profitability of your dairy herd.

  • Keep cows’ hooves properly shaped once or twice a year. Optimally – once at dry-off & around 100 days in milk. Heifers: 3-4 months before calving.
  • Aim for the shortest possible waiting time at milking
  • Ensure that there is enough space. One feeding place (60-90 cm) and one cubicle (120 cm) per animal, especially pregnant and new calvers
  • Limit fixing to shorter periods around feeding and possibly disease treatment
  • Avoid heat stress, use fans (also over the cubicles). Apply water spray system already at 20°C
  • Ensure well-balanced nutrition and use of proper feeding management practices. Avoid rapid feed changes.
  • Keep the stall and walkways clean, dry and free from sharp objects:
    • Housed systems - use rubber floor in critical areasd
    • Grazing system - avoid mud by spreading sand on the walkways and lanes.


Focus areas for managing heifers and first-time calvers

  • Accustom the heifers to concrete floors through most of the growth period (starting from 5 months of age)
  • Accustom the heifers to cubicles well in advance before calving
  • Keep heifers separate from cows due to size difference and problems with dominance
  • Avoid too many movements and changes - especially around calving
  • Make sure that new calver sections are established with minimal stress. It is a good idea to use rubber floors


Make sure that the cows that, despite preventive measures, become lame are examined and treated as soon as possible. This greatly improves the chances of recovery.

Establish sick boxes with sand or straw for moderately and severely lame cows. The sick boxes should be set up close to the milking parlor. Alternatively, it must be possible to milk lame cows in the box.

If it is practically possible, it can be a good idea to ensure some outdoor time for lame cows. Remember to secure an adequate supply of feed.

Source: SEGES, Denmark

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