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4 May 2021

Hoof health in transition cows – part 1

Harsh handling of transition cows creates hoof problems. During the transition period, the cow is ‘softer’ in all joints. The risk of sole ulcers and other disorders is increased if she is treated too harshly.

Most farmers are aware of mastitis and milk fever during the transition period, but horn-related hoof diseases such as sole ulcers are also often seen in the period around calving.

All the cow's ligaments become softer around calving. This helps open up the birth canal so that the calf can be born. But since the softening takes place hormonally, all other connective tissue in the body, and thus also the connective tissue around the hoof bone, is also softened.

The suspension of the hoof bone in the hoof capsule is thus loosened, creating the risk of pressure damage between the hoof bone and the hoof sole.

Due to the physical changes, the cow is particularly sensitive to walking and standing on hard ground during the transition period. At the same time, it is important to avoid pushing and stressing the cow during the entire period before and after calving if you need to move her.


Gentle handling

The first basis for a later sole wound or a loose white line can be formed if the cow is forced to 'resist', stop quickly or start quickly, simply because the suspension around the hoof is so soft.

Pay particular attention to how she is led for milking. Many hoof injuries can occur in newly calved cows which are pushed forward too hard for milking.

It is therefore recommended to provide as soft a surface as possible, and gentle handling from the time when the cow is three weeks before calving and until three weeks after calving.

Source: SEGES, Denmark

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