Association between hoof lesions and fertility in lactating Jersey cows

B. O. Omontese, R. Bellet-Elias, A. Molinero, G. D. Catandi, R. Casagrande, Z. Rodriguez, R. S. Bisinotto, G. Cramer

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1 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to evaluate the association between hoof lesions and fertility in dairy cows. Lactating Jersey cows (n = 1,639) were enrolled at 20 ± 3 d in milk (D20), examined and treated for presence of hoof lesions (HL), and evaluated for body condition score (BCS). Afterward, they were managed according to standard farm procedures, including estrus detection and presynchronization and a 5 d Cosynch-72 protocol for cows that failed to show estrus. Ovaries were scanned at 27 and 41 ± 3 d in milk, and cows with a corpus luteum greater than 20 mm on at least 1 exam were considered cyclic. At 120 ± 3 d in milk (D120), cows were re-examined for HL and BCS. Cows were classified at D20 according to HL status as healthy (n = 1,197) or having HL (n = 429), and according to HL category as healthy (n = 1,197) or having a sole hemorrhage (n = 280), noninfectious HL (sole ulcer, toe ulcer, or white line disease; n = 113), or infectious HL (digital dermatitis and foot rot; n = 36). Cows with HL at D20 had reduced odds of being cyclic (38.3 vs. 51.9%) and a longer interval from calving to first service (58 vs. 51 d) compared with healthy cows. Cows with infectious HL at D20 had reduced odds of pregnancy to first service (16.7 vs. 38.3%) compared with healthy cows. Cows with sole hemorrhage at D20 were more likely to lose pregnancies between d 32 and 64 after the first service postpartum compared with healthy cows (10.5 vs. 5.2%). Cows with sole hemorrhage at D20 had a smaller hazard of pregnancy (67.9 vs. 75.5%) at 150 d in milk and more days open (88 vs. 77d) compared with healthy cows. To assess the relationship between the development of HL and fertility, cows were classified as healthy (no HL at D20 and D120; n = 308), cured (any HL at D20 and no HL at D120; n = 72), new HL (no HL at D20 and any HL at D120; n = 597), and chronic (any HL at D20 and D120; n = 226). Sole hemorrhage accounted for 93% of new HL. The proportions of cows with HL at D20 and D120 were 26.9 and 68.4%, respectively. We found no evidence for a difference in pregnancy hazard at 150 d in milk between cows that remained healthy (n = 308) and cows that developed new HL (n = 597). Hoof lesions at D20, but not new HL, were associated with decreased odds of cyclicity, longer interval from calving to first service postpartum, and reduced pregnancy hazard in Jersey cows. The effect of an HL diagnosis in early lactation and management to reduce chronic HL in dairy cows warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3401-3413
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the owners and staff of Davis Family Dairies (Nicollet, Le Sueur, MN), for the use of their cows and facilities, and for their assistance during experimental procedures. Financial support for this project was provided by a grant from Rapid Agricultural Response Minnesota Fund and the University of Minnesota. The assistance of summer and postgraduate students during farm visits, cow handling, and hoof trimming is greatly appreciated. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Dairy Science Association

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • cyclicity
  • foot trim
  • hoof lesion
  • lameness
  • pregnancy hazard

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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