Hoof Health Matters

VikingGenetics is the pioneer when it comes to breeding for Hoof Health. Our sires are reliably evaluated for 10 different hoof diseases and the Hoof Health index reduces lameness, improves longevity, and reduces costs for the dairymen and saves pain for the cows.  

The Hoof Health index is not widely known, because the most common way to improve hoof health used to be the Feet & Legs conformation index. VikingGenetics has learnt that to improve a specific trait, you need to register the specific disease, meaning: To improve hoof health, you need to register hoof diseases. In 2003, the Nordic countries started to collect data from all hoof trimmers and in August 2011, the Hoof Health index was included in the Nordic Total Merit (NTM) Index, being the first time in history that hoof health was included in an overall breeding goal. 

Based on this unique information, our index is capable of describing the bull’s daughters’ genetic ability to resist hoof diseases, including breeding values for seven sub-traits: 
  • Sole Ulcer
  • Sole Hemorrhage
  • Heel Horn Erosion
  • Digital Dermatitis + Interdigital Dermatitis
  • Verrucose Dermatitis + Interdigital Hyperplasia
  • Double sole + White line separation
  • Cork screw hoof

The source of data is collected from electronic devices by hoof trimmers, and they classify each individual hoof for 10 different disorders where Digital Dermatitis is one of them. 

Digital Dermatitis - Also known as Hairy Foot Wart, is one of the hoof diseases causing most hassle in a herd. “It is a painful disease that not only makes cows suffer, but causes a loss in the production and a negative impact on fertility”, Sara Wiklert Petersson, Head of Sales at VikingGenetics, describes. 

We have reliable data to calculate and offer a breeding value that not only prevents hoof diseases, but also has a high correlation with longevity. “Hoof Health is one of the traits a dairyman can take into account when breeding healthy cows and really see the genetic progress”, Wiklert adds. 

One more advantage when selecting for better Hoof Health is that the Nordic bulls don’t show a genetic decline in hoof health despite high production, which means that the dairy producers can increase yield at the same time as they get better hoof health in their herds. 

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