Digital health and conformation were assessed in 216 dairy cattle on 78 randomly selected small-scale
farms. For each cow, gait was assessed and the digits examined in detail. Hoof measurements
(angle and length of the dorsal hoof wall, heel depth and hoof-base area) were also made.
Hoof measurements varied most between individual cattle. Dorsal angle was correlated with heel
depth (r = 0,53; P = 0,001) and dorsal length (r = -0,40; P = 0,001). The hoof-base area was correlated
with the dorsal length (r = 0,41; P = 0,001). There were significant breed differences in dorsal
angle (P = 0,03) and dorsal length (P < 0,01). The dorsal angle was correlated with parity and body
condition, while the dorsal length, heel depth and the hoof-base area were correlated with the heart
girth (P< 0,01).
Hoof conformation was associated with both clinical lameness and hoof lesions. A 1cm increase in
the dorsal length increased the odds of lameness by 16,9, heel erosion by 1,8, underrunning by 5,4
and overgrowth by 40 (P < 0,01).
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