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Evaluation of the efficacy of prophylactic hoof health examination and trimming during midlactation in reducing the incidence of lameness during late lactation in dairy cows

Jorge A. HernandezDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0136.

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Eduardo J. GarbarinoDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0136.

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Jan K. ShearerDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0136.

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Carlos A. RiscoDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0136.

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William W. ThatcherDepartment of Animal Sciences, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0136.

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Abstract

Objective—To assess the efficacy of prophylactic hoof health examination and trimming during midlactation at reducing the incidence of lameness during late lactation in dairy cows.

Design—Randomized field trial.

Animals—333 Holstein cows.

Procedures—Cows without apparent lameness were randomly allocated into 1 of 2 groups approximately 204 days after calving. Cows allocated to the treatment group (n = 161) were examined on a tilt table for diagnosis and underwent hoof-trimming procedures, if needed, for treatment of hoof disorders or lesions. Cows in the control group (n = 172) were not examined. Cows were assigned a locomotion score weekly for 28 weeks after allocation to a group. The number of cows classified as lame during late lactation (approx 205 to 400 days after calving) was compared between groups to assess the efficacy of prophylactic examination and trimming.

Results—Incidence of lameness during late lactation was 24% in cows in the control group and 18% in cows in the treatment group.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The 25% decrease in number of new cases of lameness in cows undergoing prophylactic hoof health examination and trimming during midlactation may be relevant for the well-being of dairy cows and should not represent a major economic burden to producers.

Abstract

Objective—To assess the efficacy of prophylactic hoof health examination and trimming during midlactation at reducing the incidence of lameness during late lactation in dairy cows.

Design—Randomized field trial.

Animals—333 Holstein cows.

Procedures—Cows without apparent lameness were randomly allocated into 1 of 2 groups approximately 204 days after calving. Cows allocated to the treatment group (n = 161) were examined on a tilt table for diagnosis and underwent hoof-trimming procedures, if needed, for treatment of hoof disorders or lesions. Cows in the control group (n = 172) were not examined. Cows were assigned a locomotion score weekly for 28 weeks after allocation to a group. The number of cows classified as lame during late lactation (approx 205 to 400 days after calving) was compared between groups to assess the efficacy of prophylactic examination and trimming.

Results—Incidence of lameness during late lactation was 24% in cows in the control group and 18% in cows in the treatment group.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The 25% decrease in number of new cases of lameness in cows undergoing prophylactic hoof health examination and trimming during midlactation may be relevant for the well-being of dairy cows and should not represent a major economic burden to producers.

Contributor Notes

Supported in part by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (grant No. 2002-35204-12308), the Florida Dairy Check-off Program, and the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida.

The authors thank Shawn Ward, Marie-Joelle Thatcher, Megan Elliott, Manon Schuppers, Brooke Bloomberg, Emily Piercefield, and Maria vonChamier for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Hernandez.