Lameness is a major cause of lost production, economic loss and compromised welfare in dairy cows. The majority of bovine lameness results from damage to the hoof, culminating in solear lesions and inflammation of the laminae (laminitis). Management factors predisposing to laminitis have been identified, but little is known about the biology of hoof development. Impaired keratinization has been linked histologically with subsequent laminitis, but factors regulating keratinization are unknown. We have developed a tissue culture technique for measuring cell proliferation and keratinization in hoof explants obtained by biopsy.