Laminitis Horn Disease

Includes ulcers and double soles

Horn diseases are painful, with pain levels ranging between moderate and severe. Most of the time, the back hooves are affected. In acute cases of laminitis, the claws are often warm and the animal stands and walks uncomfortably and will often lie down. Slow movement, with an arched back, is also common. In later stages, the claws grow flatter and show ‘growth rings’ on the hoof wall, indicating a history of laminitis.

Causes

The herd’s environment is one of the principal causes of horn diseases. Lack of space, inadequate housing, narrow alleyways, 90 degree turning corners, and excessive walking and standing time are considered factors. Laminitis can also be caused by the release of bacterial toxins into the laminae during dietary disturbances, ill health and other types of stress, especially around calving. Imbalanced rations, milk fever, mastitis and metritis should be addressed to avoid lameness. Environmental stress and metabolic problems result in poor horn production. Improper, inadequate and infrequent trimming creates an imbalance of weight distribution between the claws. This imbalance causes pressure points that are detrimental to proper horn production.

Prevention and Management

It is important to pay attention to your herd’s comfort environment. Make sure you have enough space and comfortable accommodation for the animals. Minimize standing time to allow for a maximum lay-down time. Ensure that rations are well balanced, especially in the pre-calving period, to avoid metabolic problems. Schedule two or three trimming sessions per year for preventive hoof care management. In cases of laminitis, it is important to restore the claw to its normal form and balance between the two digits, by trimming all four feet.

Overview

Combat the possible factor(s) that contribute to laminitis problems:

  • Practice preventive balancing of the claws (2–3 trimming sessions per year).
  • Consult your veterinarian at regular intervals for proper health management and treatment.
  • Contact your nutritionist to ensure proper balancing of the rations.
  • Reduce excessive waiting and standing for all animals.
  • Avoid slippery and overly rough floors, to maintain a stress free walking environment.
  • Allow time for exercise off of concrete flooring to stimulate blood flow in the laminae.
  • Ensure enough stalls for proper rest and avoid overcrowding.
  • Avoid excessive weight to reduce calving problems and to avoid putting extra weight on the claws.

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