It’s amazing what you can tell from examining a cow’s hooves. In the routine course of a day at Hoof Star we may examine 20-90 cows hooves.
Each farm has its own unique set of management and physical factors that affects the cows walking to and from the paddock and how they behave on the yard. It seems to be generally accepted that physical factors like race material, and yard design, affect cow lameness. A common complaint is “there are big walks on this farm and that is causing the lameness”.
If that were so we would expect to find cows with the hooves worn flat and the soles thin simply because of the wear on the races and yard. In fact that is very rare. When we see flat thin soles it is usually associated with soft horn and bruising under the surface of the sole. The problem here is caused by the pedal bone inside the hoof losing its grip on the walls and putting downward pressure on the corium and the sole. That causes the bruising. The reason the pedal bone loses its grip is the calving effect, and stress. When it is predominantly first calvers with flat bruised soles, in a big herd, you can bet your bottom dollar that stress is playing a major factor in their lameness, not just the long walks.
A useful piece of information when you want to prevent the problem.