A survey of United States dairy hoof care professionals on costs associated with treatment of foot disorders

K. A. Dolecheck, R. M. Dwyer, M. W. Overton, J. M. Bewley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to collect information regarding hoof care professionals' billing practices and to gather their opinions about foot disorders and the value of their prevention. Responses were gathered from veterinarians (n = 18) and hoof trimmers (n = 116) through both online and paper survey platforms. Because of the limited number of respondents, veterinarian responses were not further analyzed. Of the 6 foot disorders included in the survey, the treatment cost per case was greatest for toe ulcers (mean ± standard deviation; $20.2 ± 8.5), sole ulcers ($19.7 ± 8.6), white line disease ($19.5 ± 8.1), and thin soles ($18.1 ± 8.1), and least for infectious disorders (foot rot and digital dermatitis; $8.0 ± 7.6 and $7.5 ± 9.6, respectively). Of the disorders, digital dermatitis represented most of the foot disorder cases treated by respondents over the past year (43.9 ± 20.4%), whereas toe ulcers and thin soles represented the least (5.3 ± 4.1 and 5.3 ± 5.7%, respectively). Respondents that served mostly large herds (>500 lactating cows) reported a lower prevalence of digital dermatitis (31.6 ± 4.2 vs. 44.4 ± 3.4 and 46.7 ± 3.2% in small and medium herds, respectively) and a higher prevalence of sole ulcers (23.1 ± 3.0 vs. 13.4 ± 2.4 and 13.3 ± 2.3% in small and medium herds, respectively). Region of the United States (Northeast, Midwest, or other) also influenced foot disorder prevalence; respondents from the Northeast reported more sole ulcers than respondents from other regions (22.1 ± 2.3 vs. 12.4 ± 3.3%). When respondents were asked which disorder was associated with the greatest total cost per case to the producer (treatment and labor costs plus the reduction in milk yield, reduced reproductive performance, and so on), hoof trimmers ranked digital dermatitis as having the greatest total cost per case and thin soles as having the least total cost per case. Finally, respondents indicated that the most important benefits of reducing foot disorders were enhanced animal welfare and increased milk production, whereas the least important benefit was reduced veterinary and hoof trimmer fees. Results from this survey can be used to improve the accuracy of foot disorder cost estimates and contribute to better decision-making regarding both foot disorder treatment and prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8313-8326
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Dairy Science Association


  • animal health economics
  • disease treatment costs
  • hoof health
  • lameness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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