Evaluating the effect of different hoof trimming techniques and timing on dairy cow well-being and performance.

Team: Cramer, G., Cook, N., Wagner, S., Stoddard, G.

Funding Source: AABP-HTA hoof health foundation and U of MN populations systems signature program

Project Time Frame: 2016-2017

Lameness is a painful, prevalent disease in the US dairy industry. Regular hoof trimming to remove overgrowth and rebalance the claws is viewed as an essential part of a lameness prevention program and is regularly practiced by the US dairy industry. Unfortunately, there is very little scientific evidence on which to base recommendations on the timing and technique of hoof trimming. The goal of this project is to provide sound scientific evidence for this. The overall hypothesis of this project is that by modifying the timing and hoof trimming technique the incidence of foot lesions and lameness will be reduced, thereby improving longevity, well-being and productivity. We will evaluate this hypothesis by recruiting four commercial dairy farms that will enroll a total of 1800 2nd lactation animals. These animals will be enrolled at time of dry-off in 2 different treatment groups. Each treatment group will contain 900 animals and followed until they are 100-150 DIM. The 2 trimming techniques evaluated will be the functional trimming method and an adaptation that removes more horn underneath the flexor tuberosity on the lateral claw. At 100-150 DIM cows will be reassigned into a trimmed and not trimmed group to evaluate the impact of trimming twice per lactation. Outcomes evaluated in this study will include: time to lameness, time to culling and lesion prevalence. Our objectives of evaluating the timing and technique of hoof trimming will provide evidence for preventive practices that will reduce animal stress and improve animal well-being through reduced lameness.