Sole ulcers

Sole ulcers are one of the commonest causes of lameness in dairy cattle. It is an area of damaged sole horn which has completely lost the horn tissue except for the corium.

What causes sole ulcers?

Sole ulcers occur when the structures supporting the pedal bone within the hoof weaken. The bone can then move and sink causing damage to the horn producing tissue beneath and in severe or persistent cases halting horn production. As the sole wears the area of damaged horn is exposed leading to the development of a sole ulcer.

What are the clinical signs of sole ulcers?

  • pain and lameness
  • bruising on the sole surface - yellow discolouration
  • thinning of the sole over the ulcer

Prevention and control

  • ensure a well balanced diet with adequate forage
  • good maintenance of trackways, gateways and feeding areas
  • provide an adequate number of cubicles with enough space for cows to lie down
  • foot trimming carried out by a trained person