Wooden hoof blocks: are we using the right wood?

Wooden hoof blocks: are we using the right wood?
Peer reviewed


Aims: To investigate the association between the density of wooden hoof blocks and resistance to wear in pasture-based dairy herds, and to assess the density of commercially available wooden hoof blocks.

Methods: Three types of wooden hoof blocks with different densities (low, medium and high) were attached to 36 lactating dairy cows with parity ≤2 and sound locomotion (score ≤2 on a scale of 1–4). The height of wooden blocks was measured in three different regions, front, abaxial and caudal on Days 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 and 28 after application. Due to the loss of low-density wooden blocks, the data for these blocks were analysed for only two measurements on Days 7 and 11. The data for medium and high-density wooden blocks were analysed from Days 7–25. A linear mixed model with repeated measures was used to analyse the repeated observations. Height, density and surface area of commercially available hoof blocks (n = 19) were measured and compared to the blocks used in this study.

Results: The magnitude of wear, in the front and the abaxial point of the blocks were greater in blocks made of low-density wood compared to those made of medium and high-density wood (p < 0.001). The amount of wear increased over time for all groups (p < 0.001). Wood density was negatively associated with wear and loss. Measurements of commercial wooden blocks revealed that the 13/19 (63%) had lower density and 12/19 (68%) less surface area than the wooden blocks with medium density used in this study.

Conclusion: In this study, the density of the wood was significantly associated with the longevity of hoof blocks when applied to hooves of pasture-based dairy cows.

Clinical relevance: The longevity of the wooden hoof blocks applied to treat lame cows plays a significant role in the healing of the claw horn lesions. The density of a wooden hoof block affects the rate of wear of the block, and this should be considered by manufacturers and those treating lame cows.

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