Lameness in dairy cattle can result in significant economic loss. High protein levels in the diet have been implicated as a cause of lameness, whilst trimming has been advocated as an effective preventative measure. This trial examined the effects of these two factors on locomotion, hoof measurements and incidence of lameness.
Forty eight autumn calving cows in a continuous design experiment, lasting from weeks 3 to 26 of lactation were allocated to 4 treatments: LT (161 g/kg DM crude protein in the total diet, hooves trimmed); LUT (161 g/kg DM, untrimmed), HT (198 g/kg DM, trimmed) and HUT (198 g/kg DM, untrimmed). The protein levels in the complete diet were adjusted by substituting barley for soya. Daily ME intakes were maintained at the same level for all treatments by adjusting the high protein diet intake to that of the low protein, which was offered ad libitum. The cows feet were shaped and trimmed to a toe length of about 7 cm, 4 months before calving. Cows were scored for their locomotion weekly on a scale of 1 to 5 high scores indicate lameness. Hoof shape, growth, wear and hardness were recorded every 8 weeks on the right hind claw.