While benchmarking is already used for the assessment of performance gaps in cattle herd management and welfare concerns, its application to quantifying claw health performance is relatively new. The goal here was to establish a benchmarking system for claw health in Austrian dairy cattle. We used electronically registered claw health data of cows from 512 dairy herds documented by professional hoof trimmers, culling data from the same herds, and locomotion scores taken at regular milk performance testings in 99 dairy herds during 2020. Mean, median and the 10th, 25th, 75th, and 90th percentiles of the incidences of risk of lameness, 13 common claw lesions, and the annual culling risk directly related to claw and limb disorders were used as key performance indicators. Only validated data sets were used and participating trimmers and locomotion scorers had to pass interobserver reliability tests with weighted Cohen's kappa values ≥ 0.61 indicating substantial interobserver agreement. This claw health benchmarking system is intended to be used henceforth in the transnational cattle data network (RDV) by all participating farmers and is also available for veterinarians and consultants, with the agreement of respective farmers.
Keywords: benchmarking; cattle; claw lesions; claw trimming; culling rate; electronic recording; lameness; ‘alarm’ lesions.