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Foot characteristics have been linked to the development of sole lesions (sole hemorrhage and sole ulcers) and white line lesions, also known as claw horn disruption lesions (CHDL). The objective of this study was to examine the association of claw anatomy and sole temperature, with the development of CHDL. A cohort of 2,352 cows was prospectively enrolled from 4 UK farms and assessed at 3 time points; before calving (T1-Precalving), immediately post-calving (T2-Calving), and in early lactation. At each time point body condition score was recorded, a thermography image of each foot was taken for sole temperature measurement, the presence of CHDL was assessed by veterinary surgeons, and an ultrasound image was taken to retrospectively measure the digital cushion and sole horn thickness. Additionally, at the post-calving time point, foot angle and heel depth were recorded. Four multivariable logistic regression models were fit to separately examine the relationship of pre-calving and post-calving explanatory variables with the development of either white line lesions or sole lesions. Explanatory variables tested included digital cushion thickness, sole horn thickness, sole temperature, foot angle, and heel depth. Farm, parity, body condition score, and the presence of a lesion at the time of measurement were also included in the models. A thicker digital cushion shortly after calving was associated with decreased odds of cows developing sole lesions during early lactation (OR: 0.74, 95% CI: 0.65 – 0.84). No association was found between digital cushion thickness and the development of white line lesions. Sole temperature post-calving was associated with increased odds of the development of sole lesions (OR: 1.03, 95% CI: 1.02 – 1.05), and sole temperature before and post-calving was associated with the development of white line lesions (T1-Precalving; OR: 1.04, 95% CI: 1.01 – 1.07, T2-Calving; OR: 0.96 95% CI: 0.93 – 0.99). Neither foot angle nor heel depth was associated with the development of either lesion type. However, an increased sole horn thickness after calving reduced the odds of cows developing sole lesions during early lactation (OR: 0.88, 95% CI: 0.83 – 0.93), highlighting the importance of maintaining adequate sole horn when foot trimming. Before calving, animals with a lesion at the time of measurement and a thicker sole were more likely to develop a sole lesion (OR: 1.23, 95% CI: 1.09 – 1.40), compared with those without a sole lesion. The results presented here suggest that white line and sole lesions may have differing etiopathogenesis. Results also confirm the association between the thickness of the digital cushion and the development of sole lesions, highlight the association between sole horn thickness and sole lesions, and challenge the potential importance of foot angle and heel depth in the development of CHDL.
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