NJB Hoofcare Sole Ulcers

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Sole ulceration is one of the most debilitating, costly and common causes of lameness affecting beef and dairy cattle. Ulcers may occur in the typical site, beneath the flexor tuberosity of the third phalanx (sole ulcer), in the heel (heel ulcer) and in the toe (toe ulcer) depending on the location of the incursion. Sole ulcers are often associated with trauma from stone bruises for instance, and can cause severe mobility problems in dairy cattle. Sole ulcers can also be related to bleeding associated with sole bruising.

Sole ulcers commonly affect one or both of the outer hindclaws, particularly in bigger, high-yielding dairy cattle kept under conditions where cow comfort is poor. Where both hind feet are affected the symptoms may be masked. Vigilance is an important factor in spotting the effects early, and regular mobility monitoring can help in this. Sole ulcers are also common in dairy herds occupying loose-housing systems with poor hygiene conditions.

If the corium is exposed, infection can enter the deeper structures of the claw and spread, causing serious problems and allowing abscesses to develop.

Sole ulcer lesions need to be trimmed carefully by a competent trimmer. The aim is to transfer weight bearing to the sound, healthy claw and in order to achieve this, the opposing claw may be fitted with a block, lifting the affected claw, relieving the pressure and providing an opportunity for the ulcer to heal. The sole can be very carefully trimmed away and 'dished-out' around the ulcer, in order to remove pressure, but any tissue protruding from the ulcer should not be excised or treated with any caustic agent, as this can be painful and slow the healing process.

Despite the best of care, many sole ulcers may never fully resolve, and affected cows will display chronic low-grade mobility problems and require more regular corrective foot trimming than normal during their productive lives. To estblish the best care programme for existing cases and sound advice on minimising ongoing occurrences of sole ulcers, click in the header of any page to send us an email and arrange a consultation.

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