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|0108 EL: Functional claw trimming|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Herd Health|
|Written by Dr. Luis Rodriguez, Dr. Jeff DeFrain|
|Monday, 31 December 2007 17:00|
In our previous columns, we discussed hoof anatomy and reasons for routine claw evaluation and trimming.In this column we will describe the four-step functional claw trimming procedure, which is a slight modification of the original Dutch three-step procedure developed by E. Toussaint Raven.
The objectives of this procedure are to:
1) Reestablish a balanced, weight bearing surface within
2) Provide for the early identification of claw lesions.
Step 1: Reestablish normal claw conformation.
Always start the trimming process with the inner claw on rear feet and the outer claw on front feet. First, determine the length of the claws by measuring the front wall of the claw from just below the hairline to the tip of the toe (Figure 1). This should measure no less than 3 inches in length. If this measures 3 inches in length (before trimming), one can generally assume the sole is one-quarter inch thick and should therefore proceed directly to Step 2.
If this measure is greater than 3 inches, begin by reducing claw length of the inner claw on the rear feet (outer claw of front feet). Next, on this same claw, trim the sole and wall flat but not the heels (Figure 2) to provide for a stable, weight bearing surface. It is recommended to routinely check sole thickness throughout this step to maintain at least one-quarter of an inch in thickness. The sole should not be flexible under finger/thumb pressure.
Use the claw from Step 1 as a guide to trim the opposing toe to proper length (if necessary). Next, trim the weight bearing surface (sole and wall but not the heels; Figure 3) to the same level as the claw trimmed in Step 1. This will create a flat, stable, weight bearing surface within, and between, both claws (Figure 4). Confirm accuracy of this step by periodically holding the front walls of both claws together and using the trimming knife to make certain the weight bearing surface is equalized and flat.
Shape and slope the sole with a trimming knife so that the inner one-third (closest to the interdigital space) of the sole surface on both claws slopes toward the center of the claw (Figure 5: create gradual slope from the blue dotted line toward the interdigital space). Caution: avoid trimming the innermost portion of the sole near the toes as the white line (denoted by the red line in the photo) extends approximately one to one and one-half inches inward from the toe toward the heel on both claws (Figure 5).
The final step of functional claw trimming is to balance the heels. Use your knife to check for heel balance (Figure 6). This step ensures that the cow’s weight will be equally distributed at the toe, along the wall, and now the heel within each claw and across the two claws of each foot. Be cautious with the amount of horn removed from the heel as cows housed on concrete are typically lacking heel depth. Lastly, check to make certain whether or not corrective trimming is necessary to address any claw lesions present. This step completes the functional claw trimming method. The end product is a well balanced claw (Figure 7).
Each and every foot of the cow should be approached under this four-step process during claw evaluations to avoid over-trimming. This functional trimming process can be used to treat claw lesions. Furthermore, it is highly recommended all claw trimming on your dairy be conducted only by trained personnel. E. Toussaint Raven once said “If there is no lameness problem, trimming can produce it”. In our next column, we will discuss the most common mistakes made when trimming claws. EL
Dr. Jeff DeFrain
Dr. Luis Rodriguez