Sanbedding and Hooftrimming


We all know that dairy cattle in intensive production need preventive hoof trimming to control lameness. However, it is interesting how not only the region climate conditions affect to hoof health, but microclimate of every farm can develop different hoof health situations.

In this post I show some pictures of a farm in the US Midwest. Breed in farm is US Holstein, and the facilities are cubicles with sandbedding. They do 3 milkings every day, and, apart of 3 pens, all the rest have to walk around 300m to get to the milking parlour. This means, cows walk around 1,8km per day on an agressive floor (concrete and sand, because sand expands all over the place).

Preventive hoof trimming is done at midlactation and at dry off. Thin soles and corkscrew claws are pretty usual in this farm.

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In this two pictures of dry off cows you can see how is the typical appearance of sandbedding hooves. Left is a hind left foot and right is a hind right foot. Check how lateral claws have some overgrown in axial area, where modelling should be done, and they take the medial claw space up. In left picture you can also see that toes are curved, because of overwear at the toes. 

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Left picture shows how the dorsal wall length in this hind medial claw is almost perfect, 7,5 cm, and doesn’t need much trimming. On the right picture you can see the result of trimming. On medial claw only the modelling, on lateral more trimming was needed to balance both claws, tip of the toe has not been trimmed, because it wasn’t necessary and, thus, toe lesions are prevented. 

In midlactation cows the situation is not too different…

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Hind medial claw, dorsal wall length is correct without trimming, 7,5 cm.


Same cow, same foot. Picture taken during trimming. Medial claw only needs some modelling. On the other hand, in lateral claw we had to remove some horn on the sole area, because there was too many. But we did not remove horn from white line area and at the toe. The cause was that the length was also correct and central area of sole was higher than white line area. As you can see, we found some hemorrhages, so lateral claw needed an agressive modelling.

Finding these hemorrhages at midlactation is kind of a warning of conditions and handling in farm. It shows that we can not only find toe lesions, typical in sandbedding farms, we can also find sole ulcers, because horn in sole is weaker because of the overwear.

Thus, preventive trimming at midlactation give the hoof trimmer information of the hoof health in the farm, maybe there is no trimming needed, or not much, but checking claws after the peak of lactation can help the cows to live healthier without lameness, at least in this farm. It seems the trimming at dry off could have the same purpose…what would happen if we do not trim the cows in this farm twice? do you think lameness incidence would be higher? I guess so.

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