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Study of the quality and growth rate of hoof horn in growing heiffers. - AW1004

Claw horn disease is one of the most siginifant causes of poor welfare in the UK dairy herd. One of the major factors responsible for claw horn disease is the environemnt, particularly in first lactation heifers. Previous studies at ADAS Bridgets have shown that cubicle housing significantly increases sole haemorrhages and thus the risk of clinical lameness. Cubicle housing significantly increases hoof horn wear which predisposes to haemorrhage in the vascular layers of the hoof. This haemorrhage is the first stage in the development of claw horn disease. The current MAFF project is aimed at examining the effect of housing pre-calving on the development of the hoof during pregnancy, and on the development of sole haemorrhages after calving.

Study AW1004 is currently designed only to investigate the overall effect of pre-calving housing on sole haemorrhages, and not to elucidate that factors that may be responsible for this effect. The two most important factors which may lead to increased wear, and thus predispose to sole haemorrhage are:
1)The pre-adaptation of the hoof to concrete. That is the hoof of the cubicle housed animals may be more resistant to wear than the straw yard housed animal.
2) The pre-adaptation of the heifer to cubicles. That is the previously cubicle housed animal may use the cubicles better, spending more time lying down in them. This will significantly reduce the amount of time they spend standing idling, which has been directly linked to hoof horn wear.

A behavioural study of the heifres currently on study AW1004 would allow the relative importance of these two behavioural factors to be established, and would also provide significant informtaion on how heifers adapt to cubicles. This will allow the improvement of management methods so that this adaptation can be significantly improved.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Study of the quality and growth rate of hoof horn in growing heiffers.   (1366k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1998

To: 2002

Cost: £317,258
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Animal Welfare              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare