Source: National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals – Dairy Cattle, Section 4.9
Claws grow about 1/4in (5-7mm) per month (73). However, the walking surface affects the rate of growth and location of wear. For example, toes wear quickly on sand or very abrasive surfaces. Overgrowth of the heel of the lateral claw of the hind foot is a common finding. Toes tend to wear more slowly because they are harder and heels wear faster since the horn is softer.
Claw trimming is an important tool to prevent and treat lameness and should form part of an overall claw-health program. Each claw must be trimmed to its own ‘normal’ structure in order to prevent hoof disease (74). Over-trimming is a common error that can cause lameness. Only skilled individuals should trim claws on cattle.
Feet and claws must be inspected and trimmed as required to minimize lameness.
RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICES
- preferably, trim claws approximately two months before calving to prevent or minimize lameness after calving (70)
- employ trained claw trimmers. Seek out hoof trimmers that are associated with a professional association (e.g., Hoof Trimmers Association)
- ensure restraint devices are safe for personnel and cattle
- refer to Appendix K: Resources for Further Information, for more resources on claw trimming
- keep complete records.