Claw Trimming as a Lameness Management Practice and the Association with Welfare and Production in Dairy Cows
Lameness resulting from claw lesions remains a pressing welfare issue in dairy cows. Claw trimming (CT) is a common practice for prevention and management of clinically lame cows. This review summarizes the results of studies that have investigated various claw trimming (CT) methods, their application in lameness management, and associations with the welfare and production of dairy cows. The papers included in this review fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: published in peer review
... in peer review journal or book chapter within the last 20 years (1999–2019), written in English, and focused on the application of CT for lameness management and the association with either welfare or production variables. Databases used included Google scholar, Web of Science and PubMed. A total of 748 records were assessed and 61 papers were eligible for inclusion and the main objectives and results were used to categorize the results under six topics: CT techniques, association between CT and claw overgrowth/specific claw lesions, timing and frequency of CT, association between CT and behavioral variables, association between CT and physiological parameters, and association between CT and production. The literature findings showed the existence of various CT methods with the common types including the Dutch Five-step, White Line, White Line Atlas, and Kansas techniques. There is data paucity on the efficacy of these techniques in lameness management; however, the slight procedural difference yields varying sole thicknesses and presentations which may influence their prophylactic use. Results regarding the impact of CT on welfare and production were discussed in relation to potential short and long-term benefits. Depending on the lesion type and severity level, CT may induce immediate painful sensation, stress, changes in lying down activities and reduction in milk yield, but the positive impacts were more evident at later stages of lactation following improvement in locomotion score. The majority of the reviewed studies were lacking a detailed description of CT techniques and claw health of the studied animals; thus, reducing the strength of demonstrating CT-related benefits. However, electronic recording of claw health data during every CT visit provides the basis for monitoring hoof health and could assist in curtailing some of these challenges. To elucidate CT-related benefits, certain areas requiring further research were highlighted such as ascertaining the appropriate timing for preventive CT and identifying cows that will benefit more from such intervention during lactation.