Effects of breed and production system on lameness parameters in dairy cattle

L.G. Baird, Niamh O'Connell, M.A. McCoy, T.W.J. Keady, D.J. Kilpatrick

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of Holstein-Friesian (HF) and Norwegian (N) dairy cattle genotypes on lameness parameters in dairy cattle within different production systems over the first 2 lactations. Following calving, HF (n = 39) and N (n = 45) heifers were allocated to 1 of 3 systems of production (high level of concentrate, low level of concentrate, and grass-based). High-and low-concentrate animals were continuously housed indoors on a rotational system so that they spent similar amounts of time on slatted and solid concrete floors. Animals on the grass treatment grazed from spring to autumn in both years of the study, so that most animals on this treatment grazed from around peak to late lactation. Claw health was recorded in both hind claws of each animal at 4 observation periods during each lactation as follows: 1) -8 to 70 d postcalving, 2) 71 to 150 d postcalving, 3) 151 to 225 d postcalving, and 4) 226 to 364 d postcalving. Sole lesions, heel erosion, axial wall deviation, sole length of the right lateral hind claw (claw length), right heel width, and right lateral hind heel height were recorded as well as the presence of digital dermatitis. The N cows had lower (better) white line and total lesion scores than HF cows. Cows on the high-and low-concentrate treatments had better sole and total lesion scores than cows on the grass treatment. The HF cows had better locomotion scores than N cows. Breed and production system differences were observed with respect to claw conformation, including claw length, heel width, and heel height. Digital dermatitis was associated with worse sole lesion scores and interacted with production system to influence white line lesion scores and maximum heel erosion scores. This study shows that genetic, environmental, and infectious factors are associated with hoof pathologies in dairy cows.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2174-2182
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Science
  • Genetics


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