Hoof health: 5 Prevention and Control Strategies

Hoof health: 5 Prevention and control strategies

Hoof health problems are major issues when it comes to cattle rearing that can lead to economic losses.

Depending on the severity of the hoof, the following can be seen: feed intake will be decreased, loss in body weight, low yield in milk production for dairy cattle, impaired reproductive efficiency.

Here are 5 strategies to control hoof health problems.

1. Housing Management

It is not uncommon to see an increase in lameness and other hoof problems during the hot seasons.

Exposure to manure and urine also contribute to the erosion of their heels as such their sleeping and feeding pens must be kept clean at all times.

Overcrowding can also lead to the eroding of their hoofs as such plenty of space should be provided so that the less dominant cows have an escape route and don’t get trapped, then panic and injure themselves in the process of fleeing.

2. Nutrition

Since hooves are composed mainly of protein and fats, it is obvious that animals must receive adequate levels of both crude protein and fatty acids.

By carefully formulating the diet and monitoring cow health, the occurrence of poor hoof health can be minimized.

Mineral nutrition also plays a vital role in hoof health. Calcium is required to activate the enzyme needed to form keratin and is also required for the process of creating cross-links between keratin fibers.

Vitamins A and D also play a role in hoof growth and help maintain a waterproof barrier on the outside of the hoof.

How to keep cow hooves healthy
Hoof health is important in all stages. When it comes to rearing young stock it’s important to consider that healthy hooves are the foundation for healthy animals.

Hoof health: 5 Prevention and Control Strategies
A vet doctor taking care of a hoof

3. Grazing

Hoof infections are more common where pastures are on underlying clay than in sandy, chalky or limestone areas. Constantly wet hooves become soft and more easily damaged.

Muddy ground with flints or small stones is the most dangerous since flints penetrate the hoof and allow infection to enter. Susceptible animals should be prevented from grazing these pastures.

Major Hoof Problems in Cattle

Hoof ProblemsEtiology and Characteristics
LamenessArises from hoof-related health issues and is often a reason for culling.
Sole ulcerSole ulcers are a lesion on the toe or heel of the hoof, but most commonly found on the heel. The sole ulcer disrupts the production of horn material on the hoof.
Digital dermatitisA condition characterized by reddened area rounded by projected hair-like structures. This condition causes no fever in cattle, but it is painful.
Foot rotCaused by the invasion of a bacteria called F. necrophorum, which often enters hooves between the two digits of the hoof and promote bacterial growth.
Deep infectionThis occurs in cattle hooves when cracks or breaks in the hoof result from walking or standing on rough surfaces.
LaminitisThis is an inflammation of the lamina or skin surrounding the bones of the hoof and is caused by either environmental conditions, genetic conditions, or both. 

4. Foot Bath

Copper sulfate is commonly used in foot bath solutions at a concentration of 2–5%. It decreases both the incidence and severity of hoof lesions and is relatively inexpensive.

Foot bath solutions should be maintained at a minimum depth of 10cm so dewclaws are duly submerged. The solution should be changed after 200 cows pass through the foot bath.

5. Trimming

Trimming a cow’s feet can give the hoof stability and enable the cow to distribute weight equally between the hooves. It is recommended to trim feet at least once or twice a year.

Trimming the hooves of your cow can be quite rigorous for the inexperienced, If you wish to learn more on how to begin, send us a mail support@livestock247.com

If you made it to the end of this article, don’t forget to check out our other post on “Goats Breeds Perfect For Your Small Scale Farm” here.