Spatial distribution of load induced soft-tissue strain in cattle claws

W. Ouweltjes*, C.W. Spoor, J.L. van Leeuwen, S.W.S. Gussekloo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Claw disorders in dairy cattle have negative effects on both animal welfare and farm profits. One possible cause of claw disorders is the high mechanical load that cattle encounter when walking and standing on hard concrete floors. It is currently unclear how high mechanical loading leads to claw disorders and lameness. It is hypothesized that mechanical loading leads to compression of the soft tissue in the claws, which may directly or indirectly lead to tissue damage. Roentgen stereophotogrammetry in combination with CT-reconstruction was used to detect deformations in the distal hind limbs of dissected specimens of dairy cows under a range of loading regimens. The load was recorded in 3D using a force plate. Even at moderate load levels, such as during standing, the soft tissue layer was considerably compressed (>10% of the initial thickness), especially where the sole rests on the floor. Compression increases with increased and/or prolonged load. Most importantly, the location of areas of highest compression coincides with the locations where sole ulcers are most often found. These findings provide insight into the etiology of bovine claw disorders, and may contribute to solutions to reduce them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-36
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Cattle
  • Limb deformation
  • Mechanical loading
  • RSA
  • Sole ulcers


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