Claw length recommendations for dairy cow foot trimming

SC Archer, R Newsome, H Dibble, CJ Sturrock, MGG Chagunda, CS Mason, JN Huxley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


The aim was to describe variation in length of the dorsal hoof wall in contact with the dermis for cows on a single farm, and hence, derive minimum appropriate claw lengths for routine foot trimming. The hind feet of 68 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were collected post mortem, and the internal structures were visualised using x-ray mCT. The internal distance from the proximal limit of the wall horn to the distal tip of the dermis was measured from crosssectional sagittal images. A constant was added to allow for a minimum sole thickness of 5 mm and an average wall thickness of 8 mm. Data were evaluated using descriptive statistics and two-level linear regression models with claw nested within cow. Based on 219 claws, the recommended dorsal wall length from the proximal limit of hoof horn was up to 90 mm for 96 per cent of claws, and the median value was 83 mm. Dorsal wall length increased by 1 mm per year of age, yet 85 per cent of the null model variance remained unexplained. Overtrimming can have severe consequences; the authors propose that the minimum recommended claw length stated in training materials for all Holstein-Friesian cows should be increased to 90 mm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222 - 226
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number9
Publication statusFirst published - 2015

Bibliographical note



  • Hoof
  • Lameness


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