Occurence, diagnosis and treatment of hoof diseases in dairy cattle
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In dairy cattle hoof diseases is becoming a major problem which can be seen by the number of research programmes carried out throughout the world. Not only is it a welfare concern for the animal it also results in serious economic consequences for the farmer. This is due to the fact that a lame cow will graze less, will struggle to eat concentrates in a competitive environment resulting in a malnourished cow. This will decrease the reproduction rate and decrease milk production. Many factors play different roles in the various diseases, and there is a rising interest in discovering the best possible bedding, and which factors influence the hoof in which way. Preventive measures are taken by more and more farms and they vary in what they might entail. Some use preventive or routine trimming twice a year, which can be combined with foot baths. But it is also important to pay attention to the regular gait and movement of the cattle in the everyday work. On the farm that I carried out my thesis on, we examined 499 animals and of those 480 hoof diseases were discovered. On top of the fact that the farm was generally kept with poor hygiene standards some construction had recently been carried out, the result of which were a large number of small stones spread around the yard. The two of these factors along with the absence of any foot-bathing system were the main reason behind the high number of cows affected with sole ulcers and digital dermatitis. A programme has been introduced to this farm to decrease the number of cows suffering from various hoof diseases and prevent any further cows developing any hoof problems.