Short term effect of treating claw horn lesions in dairy cattle on their locomotion, activity and milk yield

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Jane A. Montgomery
Katie Forgan
Catherine Hayhurst
Elizabeth Rees
Jennifer S. Duncan
Jacques Gossellein
Charles Harding
Richard D. Murray *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Richard D. Murray |


The immediate effect on dairy cow mobility, daily activity and milk yield following treatment for claw horn disease was examined in 306 lame cows located on four Cheshire dairy farms over twelve months. The daily activity and milk yield of all cows in these herds was recorded on computer using pedometers and in-parlour milk flow meters. Lame cows identified by stockmen were assessed subjectively by locomotion score, then restrained and their claws examined to identify the predominant lesion present. Those with locomotion scores > 2.5 that presented with sole ulcer, haemorrhage and bruising, or white line disease were studied. Claws of the affected limb were trimmed by one paraprofessional claw trimmer using the five-step Dutch method and the affected claw unloaded either by trimming or application of a block to the healthy digit: those on the contra-lateral limb were trimmed similarly. The same observer repeated the locomotion score assessment seven days later: trimming reduced the proportion of lame cows (score >3) by 55% and those with poor gait (score <3>2.5) by 49%, and the proportion of all cows not lame after trimming was 51% (χ2 4.94: P≤0.001). Night time activity levels increased from 76 to 81 steps/hour on day 2 after treatment (P<0.05) but this was not maintained: daily milk yields fell by 2%. Using univariate mixed models, year and season, parity and farm all had significant effects on locomotion and activity levels. This treatment for claw horn disease in lame dairy cows improved their immediate health and welfare.


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