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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Effect of different flooring systems on claw conformation of dairy cows

Telezhenko, E.; Bergsten, C.; Magnusson, M.; Nilsson, C.


The effect of different flooring surfaces in walking and standing areas on claw conformation, claw horn growth, and wear was studied in 2 experiments during 2 consecutive housing seasons in a research dairy herd of 170 cows. In experiment 1, the flooring systems tested were solid rubber mats, mastic asphalt with and without rubber-matted feed-stalls, and aged concrete slats. In experiment 2, slatted concrete flooring was compared with slatted rubber flooring. The cows were introduced to the respective flooring systems in early lactation and their claws were trimmed before the exposure period. Toe length, toe angle, sole concavity, and claw width, as well as claw growth and wear rates were recorded for lateral and medial claws of the left hind limb. Claw asymmetry calculations were based on these claw measurements and on differences in sole protrusion between lateral and medial soles. Asphalt floors caused shorter toe length and steeper toe angle. They also increased wear on rear claws (5.30 +/- 0.31 and 5.95 +/- 0.33 mm/mo for lateral and medial claw, respectively; LSM +/- SE) and horn growth rate (5.12 +/- 0.36 and 5.83 +/- 0.31 mm/mo of lateral and medial claws, respectively). Rubber mats instead of asphalt in walking areas reduced wear (1.36 +/- 0.19 and 2.02 +/- 0.20 mm/mo for lateral and medial claw, respectively) and claw growth (3.83 +/- 0.23 and 3.94 +/- 0.17 mm/mo for lateral and medial claw, respectively). Rubber-matted feed-stalls together with asphalt walkways decreased claw wear (3.29 +/- 0.31 and 4.10 +/- 0.32 mm/mo for lateral and medial claw, respectively). The concavity of claw soles was reduced on asphalt, especially in the lateral rear claws. Rubber matting in feed-stalls prevented loss of sole concavity compared with asphalt. Claw asymmetry did not differ between flooring systems. While different access to abrasive flooring affected claw conformation, there was no evidence that flooring system influenced the disproportion between lateral and medial claws.


claw growth; concrete floor; rubber mat; asphalt floor

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2009, Volume: 92, number: 6, pages: 2625-2633