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5 Oct 2020

Hoof problems

Cows/heifers with severe hoof and leg problems will typically show a change in heat behaviour – less intense and shorter duration. Furthermore, results show that lame cows have a higher risk of a lack of activity in the ovaries (lack of heat) the first 60 days after calving. The risk of lack of heat is 3.5 times higher for lame cows than for cows with no leg or hoof disorders.

Other studies show that there is correlation between lameness, ovary cysts and fertility. For example, such results show that there was a higher occurrence of ovary cysts and lower probability of pregnancy at first service in cows turning lame within the first 30 days after calving compared to cows not lame.

Finding the problem
It is essential to determine if the problem affects single cows or the whole herd. If the latter, it is important to focus efforts on and evaluating where conditions related to feed, the environment or genetic level are the cause of hoof and leg problems and associated reproductive disorders. Evaluating the lameness level on a daily basies helps to identify lame cows early and then start treatment.

Hoof problems lead to:

  • Laminitis related hoof problems affecting the hormonal flow at the follicle stage
  • Physical stress reaction increasing the flow of stress hormones disturbing reproduction hormones
  • Abnormal eating and rumination activities further deteriorates any negative energy balance

Action plan and focus areas

  • Identify if the cause of lameness is due to feeding issues or the environment.
  • Find out if lameness is for a single cow or a herd problem
  • Keep an eye on new calvers

Source: SEGES, Denmark