Hoof care, foot disorders, and lameness issues have evolved greatly since the original Hoof Atlas was published over a quarter century ago. With that in mind, the International Lameness Committee developed a new Dairy Claw Lesion Identification guide with support from Zinpro Corporation. The committee was comprised of 20 leading foot health professionals from 15 countries. The guide includes photos and detailed descriptions for 14 common claw lesions to help streamline and drive more accurate on-farm diagnosis. This article, featuring material from the guide, is designed to aid in on-farm lesion identification efforts and improve foot health management.

This article serves as a guide to help identify 14 common claw disorders that are divided into two groups - noninfectious and infectious.

Effective claw lesion management starts by evaluating which category - infectious or noninfectious - is most prevalent on a dairy farm. Then, recording which of the ten noninfectious or four infectious diseases are taking place on a hoof and in which zone will lead to proper treatment. Corrective-action plans must be appropriate for the specific foot health issue. For example, using a footbath to treat and prevent a noninfectious lesion will not remedy the issue. So what are the common reasons that lesions occur?

Potential causes of noninfectious lesions:
  • Lack of claw trimming, infrequent claw trimming, or improper claw trimming
  • More than three hours per day spent standing in the holding area, stall area, and/or excessive time locked in headlocks
  • Poorly designed stalls creating discomfort
  • Insufficient lying time
  • Limited access to feed due to overstocking or insufficient feed bunk space
  • Flooring conducive to excess horn wear
  • Nutritional factors, such as feeding excessive amounts of rumen-fermentable carbohydrates, lack of effective fiber, excessive amounts of protein, TMR sorting, inconsistent feeding times, and inadequate trace mineral status
  • Postcalving metabolic disorders such as milk fever and ketosis
  • Heat stress, resulting in lower rumen pH and cows spending more time standing
  • Abrupt transition (nutrition and environment) from dry to lactation period
  • Potential causes of infectious lesions:
  • Wet conditions
  • Poor foot hygiene
  • Presence of infected animals in the herd
  • Poor footbath management
Another key component of this guide is the single letter acronyms for each lesion. Previously, most systems were based upon two letters. However, most herd management software programs support a single-letter recording system. If the dairy industry can more accurately and consistently describe and record both the lesion and the precise location on the claw zone with the help of this guide, then dairy producers can put together more effective programs to minimize dairy cattle lameness.

Click on the link to see the photos of the various hoof conditions.

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