Hock lesions: let's try to prevent them!

Hock lesions: let's try to prevent them!

They keep showing up: hock lesions, or as we also call it: sandpaper hocks. Let's try to prevent them! For example by providing deep, soft bedding and taking care of lameness.

Read more in our previous blogs on this subject:
- Case study: lesions on hocks
- Why is this lesion here on this cow?
- Nina checks hock damage

What advise can you give us on preventing hock lesions? Please share your thoughts!

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Photos by Cowsignals master trainer Piers Pepperell

Comments (16)

For inner hock lesions, flame the hair of the udder.

Neil Howie

I associate the inner hock lesions with cubicles which have good dimensions and allow cows to move naturally in the process of standing from the lying position. The first movement for the rear legs is horizontal and backwards, dragging the inner hock along the surface of the bed.(If the cubicles are too small, cows cannot make this movement.) If the bedding is abrasive(the sandpaper bed) , there is trauma , and the lesions develop very quickly. I have seen incidents where herds have been affected within days of the introduction of abrasive bedding(usually sawdust which includes splinter like particles), and recovered very quickly when softer bedding was introduced. Cows, and milkers find these lesions particularly irritating when milking units are attached through the hind legs.

Mike Bevan

Neil,
What bedding do you find is best to avoid these lesions?

Mike Bevan

Birte Hoyer wrote:
For inner hock lesions, flame the hair of the udder.

Hi Birte,
What's the rationale behind flaming the udders?

Dušan Kořínek

unsuitable bed surface - too hard or dirty

Neil Howie

Mike, I have seen the inner hock lesions relatively infrequently ,compared with outer hock lesions. That suggests that many bedding materials are NOT associated with the trauma which causes them, although I caveat that statement by repeating the observation about cubicle dimensions. If the cow cannot make the natural drag movement as she starts to rise, the particular contact will not happen, whatever the bedding material. (Instead, those cows will lift from where they lie, potentially putting greater strains on the hock, maybe associated with swelling, and predisposing the outer hock lesions).Where I have seen the outer hock lesions, we have simply replaced "spikey" sawdust (which contained spicules of wood like broken matchsticks) with softer sawdust, with immediate benefit.

Richard Knight

I've got some nice time-lapse videos of cows lying in cubicles, ruminating. If the beds are a bit too short/sloped too much at the back, the leg slowly slides backwards. Every now and again, when she notices, she'll pull it back up to the normal position. This may be the abrasion point, where the skin abrades the mobile udder skin, or sometimes contacts the bed? Any cyclist will empathise with this! Think correct bedding will ameliorate it, but may not be the underlying aetiology? IMHO

Richard Knight

Should've said for lesions inside the hock. Here's video, not a great demo but cow in the foreground about a minute in shows the leg movements, 1s on video is 30s real time. https://www.dropbox.com/s/gin6tq2044sbefs/dry%20cow%20cubicles%2004.11.14.mp4?dl=0

Joep Driessen

Richard Knight wrote:
Should've said for lesions inside the hock. Here's video, not a great demo but cow in the foreground about a minute in shows the leg movements, 1s on video is 30s real time. https://www.dropbox.com/s/gin6tq2044sbefs/dry%20cow%20cubicles%2004.11.14.mp4?dl=0

Thanks for sharing Richard!

Joep Driessen

Thanks for all your responses, Hock lesions can have many reasons. Deep, soft, long enough beds are very important. Also, shaving from the udder can be a problem! Good advice everyone!

Richard Stepens

There are many reasons why any housed cow can get such abrasions and I'm not sure it's a question of how but how to prevent it. My humble advice is to use proper bedding - sand, straw, water mattresses or scientifically searched mattresses from a Company like DeLaval. Of course the correct design of cubicle is essential ! I have a lot of experience with these and the problem has gone away.

Steve Adam

Let see how a Canadian producer solved his problem in a tie stall barn.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNKAQm5fPkk&index=4&list=UUBHz-HIxX0syQMwfA8PFG2A

Jose Antonio Romero Martinez

bedsites possibly be the beds not comfortable with any of this material, or where the video shows that cows do not want to lie so uncomfortable that your bed looks at the size

Mohammad Alkhateeb

I would like to share below link, this gives a good idea about cows behaviour in free stalls.
http://www.thecattlesite.com/articles/1566/behavior-of-freestall-housed-cows/

Joep Driessen

Steve, Jose and Mohammad, thanks for sharing and giving feedback. Together we know more!

Jan Peutz

When you give cows enough room so they can stand up in a natural way you get rid off this problem. It does not depend on the bedding only pure concrete is a bad circumstance.

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