The Effect of Digital Dermatitis on Hoof Conformation

A. Gomez ,*1 N. B. Cook ,* J. Rieman ,* K. A. Dunbar ,* K. E. Cooley ,* M. T. Socha ,† and D. Döpfer *

J. Dairy Sci. 98 : 927–936 10.3168/jds.2014-8483 © American Dairy Science Association®, 2015 .

Why they did it

Digital dermatitis is reported by the authors to be the most prevalent cause of lameness of infectious origin in cattle.

There has been very limited investigation into the effect of digital dermatitis on heel conformation during and following the clinical infection.

What they did

A longitudinal cohort study involving 644 Holstein heifers was carried out. Over a 6 month period a total of 1979 hoof evaluations were conducted during which the presence of digital dermatitis, heel horn erosion and hoof conformation were assessed.

What they found

Significant hoof conformation changes were observed in digital dermatitis hooves shown as increased heel height and claw angle of the medial and lateral claws.

Hooves severely affected by digital dermatitis also recorded a 46% point increase in severe heel horn erosion.

It was noted that hoof conformation changes preceded clinical lameness from digital dermatitis with the authors proposing that the transformation of the heel area in hooves affected by digital dermatitis likely promotes the creation of a local environment that favours the persistence of the disease with progression to lameness and the occurrence of severe heel horn erosion.

As such hoof conformation is proposed by the authors to be included in active surveillance for early intervention of digital dermatitis.

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