Invited review: Genetics and claw health: Opportunities to enhance claw health by genetic selection.

Heringstad, B; Egger-Danner, C; Charfeddine, N; Pryce, J E; Stock, K F; Kofler, J; Sogstad, A M; Holzhauer, M; Fiedler, Andreas; Müller, K; Nielsen, P; Thomas, G; Gengler, N; de Jong, G; Ødegård, C; Malchiodi, F; Miglior, F; Alsaaod, Maher; Cole, J B (2018). Invited review: Genetics and claw health: Opportunities to enhance claw health by genetic selection. Journal of dairy science, 101(6), pp. 4801-4821. American Dairy Science Association 10.3168/jds.2017-13531

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Routine recording of claw health status at claw trimming of dairy cattle has been established in several countries, providing valuable data for genetic evaluation. In this review, we examine issues related to genetic evaluation of claw health; discuss data sources, trait definitions, and data validation procedures; and present a review of genetic parameters, possible indicator traits, and status of genetic and genomic evaluations for claw disorders. Different sources of data and traits can be used to describe claw health. Severe cases of claw disorders can be identified by veterinary diagnoses. Data from lameness and locomotion scoring, activity information from sensors, and feet and leg conformation traits are used as auxiliary traits. The most reliable and comprehensive information is data from regular hoof trimming. In genetic evaluation, claw disorders are usually defined as binary traits, based on whether or not the claw disorder was present (recorded) at least once during a defined time period. The traits can be specific disorders, composite traits, or overall claw health. Data validation and editing criteria are needed to ensure reliable data at the trimmer, herd, animal, and record levels. Different strategies have been chosen, reflecting differences in herd sizes, data structures, management practices, and recording systems among countries. Heritabilities of the most commonly analyzed claw disorders based on data from routine claw trimming were generally low, with ranges of linear model estimates from 0.01 to 0.14, and threshold model estimates from 0.06 to 0.39. Estimated genetic correlations among claw disorders varied from -0.40 to 0.98. The strongest genetic correlations were found among sole hemorrhage (SH), sole ulcer (SU), and white line disease (WL), and between digital/interdigital dermatitis (DD/ID) and heel horn erosion (HHE). Genetic correlations between DD/ID and HHE on the one hand and SH, SU, or WL on the other hand were, in most cases, low. Although some of the studies were based on relatively few records and the estimated genetic parameters had large standard errors, there was, with some exceptions, consistency among studies. Various studies evaluate the potential of various data soureces for use in breeding. The use of hoof trimming data is recommended for maximization of genetic gain, although auxiliary traits, such as locomotion score and some conformation traits, may be valuable for increasing the reliability of genetic evaluations. Routine genetic evaluation of direct claw health has been implemented in the Netherlands (2010); Denmark, Finland, and Sweden (joint Nordic evaluation; 2011); and Norway (2014), and other countries plan to implement evaluations in the near future.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV) > Clinic for Ruminants

UniBE Contributor:

Alsaaod, Maher


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




American Dairy Science Association




Nathalie Viviane Zollinger

Date Deposited:

13 May 2019 10:38

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 05:51

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

claw disorder genetic evaluation genetic parameter




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