Sole ulcers in Finnish dairy cattle

Minna Kujala*, Ian R. Dohoo, Minna Laakso, Christian Schnier, Timo Soveri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Finnish Healthy Hooves project was set up to determine the frequency of, and risk factors for various hoof lesions in Finnish dairy herds. Data were collected in the years 2003 and 2004. A large dataset of over 74,000 cow-level observations recorded by hoof trimmers was merged with production data from the Finnish Agricultural Data Processing Centre Ltd. Ultimately, data from a single lactation from each of 16,792 cows in 703 herds were used for the analyses in this paper. Three-level hierarchical logistic models with hoof trimmer and farms (within hoof trimmer) as random effects were fit to data sets of tie stall (TS) and loose housing (LH) herds separately. The outcome of interest was the presence or absence of a sole ulcer in one or more legs of a cow during the lactation of interest. Cows examined once had a risk of sole ulcer 5.23% in tie stall herds and 7.58% in LH herds. As the number of examinations increased the odds of a diagnosis of sole ulcer increased substantially (2 and 3+ examinations had odds ratios (ORs) of 1.42 and 3.42 in TS herds and 2.77 and 6.89 in LH herds). Breed had a large effect on the risk of sole ulcer with Holsteins 2.89 times more likely to be affected than Ayrshires in TS herds and 2.94 times in LH herds. In TS herds, the presence of other hoof lesions such as haemorrhages (OR = 2.97), heel-horn erosions (OR = 2.10) and corkscrew claw (OR = 2.83) increased the risk of a sole ulcer developing. In LH herds, only haemorrhages (OR = 1.80) were a significant risk factor when parity was ≥2. In TS herds, use of mats (compared to hard flooring) significantly reduced the risk of sole ulcers (OR = 0.49). The effect of parity on the risk of sole ulcer was greatest when parity ≥4 but this effect was only significant in tie stalls (OR = 1.86). When analyses were restricted to cows with parity ≥2, similar results were obtained for the risk factors identified above. In addition, parity became highly significant in TS and LH (OR 2.31 and 2.23, respectively when parity was 4+). In TS herds, herd average milk production was significantly associated with a decrease risk of sole ulcer (OR = 1.28 per 1000 kg decrease) but there was no effect of production at the cow level (measured as deviation from the herd mean). No significant effects of production were observed in LH herds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-236
Number of pages10
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Breed
  • Farm type
  • Lactational risk
  • Sole ulcer


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