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How do we measure a cow's hoof for trimming?

To avoid over-trimming hooves, it is essential to correctly measure the length of the claw. In the past, this used to be done with a piece of cardboard but today, we have the Intra Claw Check which is used as a guide to measure a cow’s hoof accurately. It provides standard values associated with “normally” grown claws and should not be applied rigidly to overgrown or abnormal hooves.

Measuring claw length with the Intra Claw Check

1.    Claw length measure

Start by measuring the length of the claw wall on the inner claw of the hind leg or the outer claw when trimming the front leg. To get an accurate measurement, start at the point where the hard horn begins and measure to the tip of the toe. Use the Intra Claw Check to mark the wall at 75mm and make a vertical cut at the toe to the sole surface.


Measuring toe thickness with the Intra Claw Check

2.    Toe thickness measurement

Reduce the sole thickness accordingly once the cut to the correct length is made. The thickness of the Intra Claw Check is 5mm, which is used to measure the sole thickness. The average distance from the coronary band to the tip of the claw is around 82mm, which is accomplished when measuring the 75mm claw length and 5mm sole thickness.


Measuring the hoof sole vs the floor with Intra Claw Check

3.    Hoof sole vs the floor check

Once the correct length of the claw is determined, trim the adjacent claw and match the claw length and heel height. To measure the balance between the claws effectively, place the Intra Claw Check under the bottom part of the hoof, which is called the solar surface. This helps you quickly notice if there is a mismatch in the lengths and heel height of claws. The goal is to ensure both claws share the weight evenly, allowing the animal to stand comfortably and naturally. Both claws’ soles should rest flat against the ground, ensuring even and correct contact and weight bearing.

 

WARNING: Over-trimming can happen when trimming a rear foot and the inner claw is short or low in the heel. This will make it impossible to match up the outer claw because it will end up too thin.


Measuring the hoof angle with the Intra Claw Check

4.    Hoof angle measurement

Control the angle between the sole and anterior claw wall. The angle of the Intra Claw Check is set at 50°, allowing easy recognition of the acceptable variation of 45-50°. It is vital to keep the heel height of the inner claw of the rear legs as high as possible. Lowering that heel depth will put more pressure on the outer claw and cause potential problems, such as laminitis.


 

In closure, this basic measuring technique will help with hoof-trimming routines and help treat lameness. Distributed by Lionel’s Veterinary Supplies.

Contact a representative for any assistance: www.lionelsvet.co.za/sales-team.

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