The effect of preventive trimming on weight bearing and force balance on the claws of dairy cattle

By Back, W. and Braam, C. R. and Metz, J. H. M. and Noordhuizen Stassen, E. N. and van der Beek, S. S. and van der Tol, P. P. J. and Weijs, W. A., Journal of Dairy Science, 2004
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Claw disorders and lameness in dairy cattle are an increasing problem of the modern dairy industry. To prevent claw disorders from evolving from the subclinical to the clinical stage, trimming is the management practice most routinely applied. The goal of preventive trimming (Toussaint-Raven method) is to promote natural loading by increasing the weight-bearing contact area of the claws and improving the balance between the medial and lateral claw. The biomechanical effect of preventive claw trimming was investigated with the aid of pressure distribution and ground reaction force recordings of the standing cow sampled simultaneously at 250 Hz. It appeared that preventive trimming of the hind limbs (n = 10) brought the claws slightly more in balance. Before trimming, 80% of the total force is taken up by the lateral claw and 20% by the medial claw. After trimming, this becomes 70 to 30%, respectively. Thereby, a significant increase in the weight-bearing contact area from 27.5 to 40.0 cm(2) was achieved, resulting in a significant decrease in average pressure. However, the claws remained subjected to unaltered, high maximum pressures after trimming. The suggestion was made that the main focus of claw trimming should not be force balance; instead, a reduction of local maximum pressures at the contact area should be targeted in such a way that the strongest parts of the claw capsule (i.e., the wall) will be subjected to the highest pressures.
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