ICAR Claw Health Atlas (2nd edition) and two Appendixes


Three new publications from the Functional Traits Working Group and the claw experts: the “ICAR Claw Health Atlas” (2nd edition) and two Appendixes

ICAR Secretariat is pleased to advise that three new publications are now freely available for downloading from the ICAR web site.

Contemporary to the publication of the 2nd edition of the Claw Health Atlas, the ICAR Functional Traits WG released also the Appendixes 1 and 2 to the Atlas: the Appendix 1: Digital Dermatitis Stages (M-stages) and the Appendix 2: Digital Dermatitis-Associated Claw Horn Lesions

ICAR Claw Health Atlas (2nd edition)

Following the first edition of the ICAR Claw Health Guidelines, the ICAR Functional Traits Working Group (ICAR WGFT) and the panel of experts took care of updating and selectin better pictures that shows the primary characters and an even clearer description of the claw diseases.

This edition, composed of 42 pages (available here), collects and describes the principal claw diseases in cows and the success of the first editon is demonstrated by the wide number of downloadings since 2005 (around 30.000/year) and the numerous translations (20 different translations in the main languages, including Chines, Hindi and Arabic) that receives similar numbers in the downloading.

The Atlas is the result of an harmonized descriptions are of a fruitful interdisciplinary collaboration among many experts with varying backgrounds (claw health experts, hoof trimmers, bovine practitioners, geneticists), ensuring comprehensive coverage of theoretical and applied needs.

The Atlas is designed to provide a tool for practitioners and hoof trimmers and presents guidelines for the recording of important conditions affecting the claw health of cattle. Descriptive trait definitions are used to ensure that accurate classifications are made, which will support the collection of comparable and high-quality data within and across countries to support many activities (e.g., genetic evaluation purposes). The authors and contributors to the ICAR Claw Health Atlas hope that the compiled material will support the improved recording of foot and claw disorders and provide a valuable tool for improving the health and welfare of dairy cattle.

This work is part of the ICAR’s strategy for helping its members to provide better services to farmers and to facilitate the genetic improvement of farmed livestock, particularly dairy cattle. For the first time we now have an international Atlas and coding system for claw traits in dairy cattle. This represents a major step forward in ensuring the incidence of claw defects affecting animal health, welfare, and productivity can be reduced in the future.



Appendix 1: Digital Dermatitis Stages (M-stages)

The Appendix 1 of the Claw Atlas is focussed on the M-stages scoring system, a highly effective way to diagnose and monitor digital dermatitis (available here). Depicting the life cycle of the disease, M-scoring enables a dairy operation to improve its hoof health program and quantify economic losses associated with the serious impact of this disease on animal welfare. This classification system helps farmers, hoof trimmers and veterinarians gauge the effectiveness of current treatment and prevention protocols, which, in turn, can help a farm break the vicious cycle of digital dermatitis. Transitions between M-stages of DD can occur within 10 days, but these intervals can vary between individual cows depending on genetic susceptibility, infectious pressure and the impact of risk factors. Recording the current DD status is vital for choosing the correct course of therapeutic and/or preventive action for the individual animals and at the population level.

Appendix 2: Digital Dermatitis-Associated Claw Horn Lesions

The The Appendix 1 of the Claw Atlas focuses on the DD-associated bovine claw horn lesions (available here), characterized by penetration of the horn capsule and associated with white line infection and sole ulcers etc. are frequently encountered in dairy herds endemically infected by digital dermatitis (DD) (Blowey 2011, Evans et al. 2011, Holzhauer and Pijl 2011). In herds with endemic DD-infection, the exposed corium of the wall and/or the sole is also infected with Treponema spp. because they are present everywhere in the environment (Evans et al. 2011).

This disease responds poorly to standard DD treatment (Evans et al. 2011) or standard treatments of white line infection or sole ulcer (without a secondary infection with DD-associated Treponema spp.), therefore cows affected commonly have these lesions for several months, and sometimes for more than a year. Therefore historically these lesions have been called ‘non-healing’ claw horn lesions (Blowey 2011, Evans et al. 2011).

Most of these large DD-associated claw horn lesions are chronic, persist for several months and represent a serious welfare issue for the affected cattle. Appropriate and effective treatment for these lesions consists of the complete removal of all loose horn around the lesion and thinning out the horn margins around the lesion using a hoof knife, followed by surgical debridement of the infected corium layer using local anesthesia. In all these cases, a block must be applied to the partner claw, and a protecting bandage (protection of the wound from immediate new contamination) to the foot.

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