Date Published: September 24, 2007
Publisher: BioMed Central
Author(s): Terje Fjeldaas, Ola Nafstad, Bente Fredriksen, Grethe Ringdal, Åse M Sogstad.
The main aim of the study was to assess the prevalence of claw and limb disorders in Norwegian beef-cow herds.
Twenty-six herds with ≥15 cow-years were selected by computerized systematic assignment from the three most beef cattle-dense regions of Norway. The study population consisted of 12 herds with 28 heifers and 334 cows. The animals were trimmed and examined once by claw trimmers during the late winter and spring of 2003. The seven claw trimmers had been taught diagnosing and recording of claw lesions. Environment, feeding and management routines, age and breed, culling and carcass characteristics were also recorded.
Lameness was recorded in 1.1% of the animals, and only in hind claws. Pericarpal swellings were recorded in one animal and peritarsal lesions in none. In total, claw and limb disorders including lameness were recorded in 29.6% of the animals, 4.1% with front and 28.2% with hind limb disorders, respectively. Most lesions were mild. Laminitis-related claw lesions were recorded in 18.0% of the animals and infectious lesions in 16.6%. The average claw length was 84 mm in front claws and 89 mm in hind claw. Both laminitis-related and infectious claw lesions were more prevalent with increasing age. Carcasses from animals with claw and limb disorders were on average 34 kg heavier than carcasses from animals without such disorders (p = 0.02). Our results also indicate association between some management factors and claw lesions.
The study shows that the prevalence of lameness was low in 12 Norwegian beef-cow herds compared to beef-cattle herds in other countries and also that there were less claw and limb disorders in these herds compared to foreign dairy-cattle herds. The prevalence of lameness and white-line fissures was approximately the same as in Norwegian dairy herds whereas less dermatitis, heel-horn erosions, haemorrhages of the sole and the white line and sole ulcers were recorded.
Lameness is an important cause of reduced animal welfare and has been shown to cause substantial economical losses in dairy and beef-cattle herds [1,2]. Diseases of the feet account for ≈90% of all lameness cases in dairy cattle [3,4] and ≈70% in feedlots [5,6].
Our study shows that the prevalence of lameness was low in 12 Norwegian beef-cow herds compared to beef-cattle herds in other countries and also that there were less claw and limb disorders in these herds compared to foreign dairy-cattle herds. Most claw lesions were mild, and the prevalence of lameness did not differ much from Norwegian dairy herds. Laminitis-related lesions were recorded in 18.0% and infectious claw lesions in 16.6% of the animals. White-line fissure was the most frequent laminitis-related lesion and heel-horn erosion the most frequent infectious lesion. Both laminitis-related and infectious claw lesions increased with age.
The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.
TF contributed to the design of the study. He taught the claw trimmers correct trimming and how to diagnose and record claw lesions. He also made the draft of the manuscript. ON who knows the beef-cow production very well, contributed to the design of the study and was the main coordinator. He also helped drafting the manuscript. BF performed the statistical and epidemiological analyses and also wrote the main part of the chapter “Material and methods”. GR visited the herds and recorded data on housing system, environment, feeding and management. ÅMS contributed to the design of the study and performed proof-reading of the recorded data. All authors read the manuscript several times and approved the final manuscript.