A total of 164 dairy cows (Simmental, Red Friesian, Holstein Friesian) were examined concerning occurrence and prevalence of claw disorders. Ten dairy farms in the province of Salzburg (Austria) were used for this study and the two housing systems (tethered and loose housing) compared. Three examinations of the claws were carried out in an interval of six month and the results recorded according to a claw scoring system. Disorders of claws caused by heel horn erosion were evaluated as a total-heel-horn-erosion-score per farm. By means of a questionnaire the economical status and the housing system of the farms including cowshed design were recorded and a so called farm-score was established. The results have shown that good housing conditions were correlated positively to healthy claws of the cows examined. Based on the variety of effects to the claw health status no significant difference between the housing systems compared could be observed. The claw disorders examined were expressed according to housing system, farm design, breed of animals and time of examination and compared with results of different investigations. It should be mentioned that dairy cows kept tethered displayed a higher incidence of digital dermatitis than expected.
In this study an example of economic losses due to lameness of dairy cows was given and discussed exclusively. Finally the positive effect of periodical trimming of the claws was confirmed and more efficient in loose housing systems.