Hoof disorders are a major welfare problem in dairy farming and result in considerable costs to the farms. In this study, the data from 24,685 Holstein cows from 1,337 herds between 2003 and 2010 were used to evaluate the correlation between hoof disorders and feet and leg conformation traits using a binomial mixed model for hoof disorders in Finnish Holstein cows. Heritabilities and correlations among the hoof disorders and feet and leg conformation traits were also estimated. Heritability estimates from univariate logistic models for 8 hoof disorders ranged from 0.02 (sole hemorrhage, chronic laminitis, and heel horn erosion) to 0.13 (digital dermatitis). Heritability estimates using the liability scale from the multivariate linear model for the 5 most-common hoof disorders ranged from 0.02 (sole hemorrhage) to 0.11 (corkscrew hoof). Estimates of heritability for feet and leg conformation traits from the multivariate linear model ranged from 0.10 (rear leg rear view) to 0.19 (rear leg side view). Genetic correlations among hoof disorders ranged from -0.36 to 0.57, and genetic correlations among feet and leg conformation traits ranged from -0.30 to 0.83. The genetic correlations between hoof disorders and feet and leg conformation traits ranged from -0.51 to 0.45. Most of the genetic correlations between various hoof disorders and feet and leg conformation traits were low and most were nonsignificantly different from zero. This indicates that indirect selection for better hoof health using feet and leg conformation traits as indicator traits is not efficient in the Finnish Holstein breed.
Copyright © 2013 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.