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4 May 2021

Hoof trimming

Hoof trimming is one of the key areas to ensure good hoof health. Keeping cows’ and heifers’ hooves properly shaped helps prevent hoof problems.


  • 2-3 months before expected calving
  • 2 months after calving
  • 1-2 times more during the lactation


  • 3-4 months before calving

When performing hoof trimming, it is extremely important to do it correctly. Remember that complicated cases always require a vet or hoof trimmer.

Hoof-related disorders typically occur around calving, where the hormones that are supposed to soften the cow's pelvis also affect the rest of the connective tissue. This causes the hoof bone to sink slightly into the hoof capsule and press on the sole.

Typically, the disorders are not seen until 2-4 months after calving, which is when the cow is high-performing.


Hoof trimming at drying off

Hoof trimming as preparation for the dry period has a significant effect on improving hoof health.

Studies show that there is a 20% lower risk of sole ulcers if hoof trimming is performed around drying off and not later than two months before calving.

Hoof-related hoof disorders, such as sole ulcers and white line separation, cause a lot of pain and distress to cows but are also connected with economic loss due to reduced productivity and reproduction performance.


20 % lower risk of sole ulcers

The study conducted by Aarhus University in Denmark with data from 621,000 cows that have been hoof trimmed 1-3 months before calving showed that hoof trimming around drying off has a good preventive effect. Hoof trimming reduces the risk of sole ulcers by 20%.

The study also shows that if the cow has once had a sole ulcer, there is a significantly higher risk that it will recur.


Be careful not to perform hoof trimming on dry cows too late

The average incidence of abortion in all pregnant dairy cows is 1%. However, for pregnant cows handled in a hoof trimming box, the risk increases to 2% because of extra stress.

The good news though is that this increase is only seen 8 weeks before calving and thereafter. Until then, the risk is not higher.  

It is therefore recommended that the cow be hoof trimmed 3-4 weeks before drying off.

Source: SEGES, Denmark

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