Hoof problems in dairy cows: the influence of biotin on hoof health

9 November 2023

Biotin's effect on a cow's hooves

Hoof health is a crucial aspect of cattle management, as it directly impacts the overall well-being and productivity of the cows. Furthermore, lameness impacts profitability because of costs related to treatment, culling, milk yield, extra labor, etc. A study published in April of 2023 found the average cost of lameness to be 307,50 EUR [1]. Therefore, prevention is paramount. One of the keys to maintaining strong and healthy hooves is through proper nutrition. In this article, we explore the influence of biotin on hoof health.

the influence of biotin on hoof health

Hooves

Let’s start with a look at the most important parts of a cow’s hooves. On the outside, we find the hard hoof wall (1), usually referred to as the horn. The horn contains significant amounts of keratins, proteins that are very resistant to acids and alkaline substances. Under normal conditions, horn growth is 5 - 13 mm per month, depending on the nutrition, health, and genetics of the cow [2]

At the bottom of the hoof is the sole (2), in which the front is called the toe and the back the two heel bulbs. This softer tissue is connected with the horn through the white line (3). This white line offers some flexibility when the cow moves. Both the horn and the sole are formed by the corium: the cell-producing factory adjoint to the horn (5) and the sole (6) [3].

Very important is the digital cushion (9). This fatty layer protects the corium from the bones inside the hoof and helps transport blood. The pedal bone (4) is the bone closest to the digital cushion and is the bone that shapes the hoof. This is the only bone that is completely within the hoof [3].

Figure 1: The anatomy of a healthy cow’s foot [4].


Hoof problems

Cattle depend heavily on their hooves for mobility and stability. Having healthy hooves is crucial for them to graze, walk, and run easily. Hoof-related problems, like lameness, can result in decreased fertility, milk quality, and longevity in dairy cows [5]. The four main causes of lameness are sole ulcers, white line disease, digital dermatitis, and foot rot. The first two are defects of the hoof [6].

Noteworthy are the higher numbers of lame cows in the months after calving, during a period of negative energy balance. This is caused by a number of factors. It is suggested, for example, that horn growth is reduced around calving as more nutrients are directed towards milk production. This reduced horn growth is also accompanied by increased hoof wear as periparturient cows have more standing time. Slower growth and increased wear will lead to thinner soles, which increases the risk of damaging the corium, thus causing the formation of even poorer hooves [6].

Table 1: number of lame cows by month of lactation [6].

It is vital to prioritize maintaining the best possible hoof health in order to prevent all sorts of lameness. Now let’s dive into the influence of biotin on hoof health.


What is biotin?

Biotin is a water-soluble and sulfur-containing B vitamin that “is involved in a wide range of metabolic processes (…) primarily related to the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids.” [7]. It occurs naturally in plants and is also produced by microbes in the rumen. It has been reported that acidic rumen conditions can reduce the synthesis of biotin during the periparturient period and in early lactation.

Figure 2: Structural formula of (+)-biotin [7].

Interesting is its important role in developing skin cells (claw horn is just a modified type of skin) and the keratinization of the hooves [5]. We described earlier how the corium is the cell-producing factory of the hooves. You can compare this corium with the lunula of your fingernail; the white-ish part in which new “fingernail cells” are produced. As with the lunula, the corium slowly pushes away the newly formed “horn cells”. During this process, these cells get harder and form the new outer growth of the hooves. This process is called keratinization [3]. Any disturbance of this process may affect the horn quality. Simply put: biotin promotes horn formation and thus improves horn quality.  Biotin has also been found to improve conception rates, milk quality, and milk quantity [5].


The influence of biotin on hoof health

The influence of biotin on hoof health is well documented. Numerous research findings have proved that providing dairy cows with a daily biotin supplementation of 20 mg leads to a decrease in the occurrence of several prevalent hoof issues.

Pötzsch and colleagues found that biotin reduces the cases of white line disease by 45% in multiparous cows [8], while another study found an impact on white line disease lesions after 2 months already [9]. In a comprehensive split-herd intervention study with 900 cows across five UK farms, the administration of 20 mg of biotin per day resulted in a 50% reduction in the occurrence of lameness attributed to white line lesions [10].

Other studies focus on the sole of the hoof. A study on crossbred cattle in India found a significant decline in heel erosion and injuries to the sole thanks to 20 mg of biotin per day for 6 months. They mentioned that “the improvement may be related to the fact that biotin improves the quality of the claw horn, which encourages replacement of defective horn by improving the healing process.” [11] These results were confirmed in a research paper that involved supplementing dairy cows with 20 mg of biotin and 4 grams of zinc sulfate for 4 months. Not only did heel erosion decline, but the soles of the cows also got thicker and overgrew less [12].

Hoof problems in dairy cows

Figure 3. Point where the probe was placed while measuring sole thickness [12]

When looking at plasma biotin levels of dairy cows you´ll see a drop in these levels 25 days in milk, returning to normal levels from 100 days in milk until the end of lactation [13]. This is in line with the high cases of lameness after calving we described earlier. Noteworthy are the lower plasma biotin levels found in lame cows when compared to cows with no history of lameness [14].

Most clinical hoof lesions are associated with poor hoof horn quality. Supplementing clinically healthy 1-year-old Girolando cattle (Holstein cross breed) with 12,5 mg of biotin daily for 40 days showed to be beneficial to horn quality. Hoof growth in treated animals was 4.1 mm greater than in the control group [15].

There is a known link between acidosis and lameness. The reason why acidosis leads to poor hoof formation is however unknown. Biotin deficiency has been proposed as a possible factor [6].

Lastly, biotin-supplemented cows also show improved milk quantity and quality [12], with a meta-analysis even showing 1.3 kg of extra milk per day [16]. It is thought that dietary biotin increases fiber digestion or increases propionate production, thereby providing additional nutrients to improve milk production [16].


Conclusion

In summary, the importance of maintaining optimal hoof health in dairy cows cannot be overstated, as it directly influences their well-being, productivity, and overall profitability. The research presented in this article underscores the critical role of proper nutrition, specifically the influence of biotin, in preserving hoof health. Biotin has been shown to play a pivotal role in promoting horn formation, enhancing hoof quality, and reducing the occurrence of common hoof problems such as white line disease and sole injuries. These findings emphasize the need for proactive hoof health management strategies, including the incorporation of biotin supplementation, to ensure the well-being and productivity of dairy cows while minimizing economic losses. These findings do not necessarily mean that all cows should be supplemented with biotin, but that certain groups have a higher risk of becoming lame, such as cows that have recently calved and cows suffering from acidosis.


Hooftop: Resco’s biotin bolus


Hooftop is a cattle biotin bolus developed by Resco to strengthen the hooves and prevent hoof problems and lameness in cattle. The bolus steadily releases 20 mg of biotin per day during 2 months. Apart from biotin the bolus also contains other ingredients related to improved hoof health such as zinc and vitamin E.

Hooftop is a dietetic complementary feed and thus complies with the EU regulation 2020/354. This regulation states that a bolus with the particular nutritional purpose to support the regeneration of hooves, trotters and skin has a recommended length of up to 8 weeks.

Hooftop is an easy way of administering the recommended 20 mg of biotin per day.

Biotin and zinc bolus to improve hooves



Source list: Hoof problems in cows and the influence of biotin on hoof health


[1] Robcis, R., Ferchiou, A., Berrada, M., Ndiaye, Y., Herman, N., Lhermie, G., & Raboisson, D. (2023). Cost of lameness in dairy herds: An integrated bioeconomic modeling approach. Journal of Dairy Science, 106(4), 2519–2534.

[2] Van De Kerk. (1979). Rendérende rundveehouderij. Uitgeverij Terra Zutphen.

[3] Hepworth, K., Neary, M., & Purdue University. (n.d.). Hoof anatomy, care and management in livestock. Purdue Agriculture.

[4] The anatomy of a healthy cow’s foot. (n.d.). AHDB. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from

[5] Singh, A., Randhawa, S. S., & Singh, R. (2019). The effect of biotin and zinc supplementation on dairy cow hoof health and milk quality. Veterinarski Arhiv, 89(6), 799–820.

[6] Blowey, R. (2005). Factors associated with lameness in dairy cattle. In Practice, 27(3), 154–162.

[7] Biotin. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from

[8] Pötzsch, C. J., Collis, V., Blowey, R., Packington, A., & Green, L. (2003). The impact of parity and duration of biotin supplementation on white line disease lameness in dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 86(8), 2577–2582.

[9] Hoblet, K., Weiss, W., Anderson, D., & Moeschberger, M. (2004). Effect of oral biotin supplementation on hoof health in Holstein heifers during gestation and early lactation. International Symposium on Lameness in Ruminants., 253–255.

[10] Hedges, J., Blowey, R., Packington, A., O’Callaghan, C., & Green, L. (2001). A longitudinal field trial of the effect of biotin on lameness in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 84(9), 1969–1975.

[11] Randhawa, S. S., Dua, K., Randhawa, C. S., Randhawa, S. S., & Munshi, S. K. (2008). Effect of biotin supplementation on hoof health and ceramide composition in dairy cattle. Veterinary Research Communications, 32(8), 599–608.

[12] Singh, S., Randhawa, S., & Singh, R. (2019). The effect of biotin and zinc supplementation on dairy cow hoof health and milk quality. Veterinarskhi Arhiv, 89(6), 799–820.

[13] Midla, L. T., Hoblet, K. H., Weiss, W., & Moeschberger, M. L. (1998). Supplemental dietary biotin for prevention of lesions associated with aseptic subclinical laminitis (pododermatitis aseptica diffusa) in primiparous cows. PubMed, 59(6), 733–738.

[14] Roberts, R., & Baggott, D. (1981). Biotin experiments with dairy cattle. Proc. Roche Vit. Symp., 13-20.

[15] La, D. S., Lg, F., Ib, A., Cunha, D., Mi, D. M., & Ds, G. (2010). Effect of biotin supplementation on claw horn growth in young, clinically healthy cattle. PubMed

[16] Lean, I., & Rabiee, A. (2011). Effect of feeding biotin on milk production and hoof health in lactating dairy cows: A quantitative assessment. Journal of Dairy Science, 94(3), 1465–1476.


Hoof problems in dairy cows: the influence of biotin on hoof health

8 January 2024

Trace elements for calves

Ensuring a high-quality and balanced feed for calves is of great importance in fostering their healthy growth and development. In this article, we look at the role and importance of trace elements for calves.

4 September 2023

Propolis, the natural 'sting' operation against microbes!

Sustainable farming needs innovative solutions. Bee-made propolis offers promise for eco-friendly cattle farming. Discover the secrets of propolis on our blog.

23 August 2023

Resco visits SPACE in France

Between September 12 and 14, the Resco team will be present at the SPACE exhibition in Rennes, France.

2 May 2023

Study on the effectiveness of Calcitop

Calcium boluses come in many shapes and formulas. Calcitop contains not only calcium, but also phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin D3. This formula ensures an optimal prevention of milk fever in cattle. A study published in 2021 studied the effect of Calcitop compared to two other calcium boluses.

2 May 2023

Resco showcases boluses and tablets in the USA and Thailand

During the first quarter of 2023 Resco exhibited their boluses and tablets in the USA and in Bangkok.

28 February 2023

Hypokalemia in cattle

Hypokalemia in cattle: what is it? An article about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of potassium deficiency in dairy cows.

16 January 2023

New year, new bolus!

Prevent subclinical milk fever the way nature intended it by stimulating the calcium mobilization from the bones.

20 December 2022

Natural alternatives to antibiotics in cows: how garlic extracts keep the udder healthy

Garlic extracts are known for their antibacterial properties and are widely used as a natural alternative to antibiotics in cows. Read how our boluses Mammitop and Mammitop Clinic support udder health in dairy cows.

29 November 2022

Results of Ketotop trial in China

A trial was done on a Chinese dairy farm to test the influence of the boluses on the occurrence of ketosis. Read the results on this blog.

26 October 2022

How beta-carotene helps to improve the success rate of insemination in cows

With fertility of lactating dairy cows decreasing over the last decades, success at the first insemination is becoming more important. Fertitop has proven to increase the success rate of insemination. One of the active ingredients that improve fertility is beta-carotene. But how does it do that?

13 September 2022

New bolus for adult cattle: the potassium bolus!

Resco launches it's newest bolus Kalitop. One application provides 70 grams of potassium to prevent or cure hypokalemia.

17 August 2022

Resco presented its effervescent tablets for poultry in Brazil

Resco presented its effervescent tablets for poultry to the South American market during SIAVS in São Paulo, Brazil. We are happy to say that our effervescent tablets caught the attention of some very interesting people and we're ready to go to the next step in Brazil.

4 July 2022

New bolus: enertop

Resco launches it's newest bolus: Enertop is a fast-acting cattle supplement designed to provide cattle with fast energy against a negative energy balance around calving or whenever needed.

10 June 2022

Thank you for visiting us at VIV Europe!

Visitors from all corners of the world found their way to our booth at VIV Utrecht a week ago. We want to thank everyone for the interesting conversations we had about our boluses and tablets.

11 May 2022

Meet us at VIV Europe in the Netherlands

Resco will have a booth at VIV Europe from 31/05 to 02/06 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. We welcome you to meet us, without a blurred background!

28 February 2022

Trial Mammitop Clinic bolus

In this trial the Mammitop Clinic bolus from Resco is tested by the International University of Andalucía, Sevilla, Spain.

24 January 2022

46% more weight gain for your calves!

Read our blog to find out the great results of the trial with Tracetop Junior, a mineral and vitamin bolus for older calves.

22 December 2021

Happy holidays from Resco

Winter has started in Belgium and that means it is time to wrap up 2021. We want to thank everyone that contributed to a successful year and look forward to what is coming in 2022. Let’s see what happened in the last 12 months.

29 November 2021

VIV MEA: Resco is finally present at exhibitions again

We want to thank everyone who took out their time to meet and talk to us at VIV Middle East and Africa.

29 November 2021

A Hungarian university study on the effect of our calcium bolus

A study was performed by the University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest on a Hungarian farm from May to June 2019. This study compared 168 cows that received two Calcitop boluses the day after calving to 136 cows that calved in the same period a year earlier (May to June 2018).

29 October 2021

Visit us at VIV MEA

From November 23th to November 25th Resco will be exhibiting at VIV Middle East and Africa in Abu Dhabi. If you plan to visit the exhibition, come meet us at booth 08.K054!

29 October 2021

Results of the Mammitop Small bolus on milk sheep

A trial was conducted on Mammitop Small at the University of Leon in Spain. 52 sheep received a Mammitop Small bolus and 53 sheep were in the control group. The trial looked at the evolution of milk production, cheese production, somatic cell count, and urea in milk.

30 September 2021

Trials showing the effect of Fertitop bolus on pregnancy in dairy cows

It is very important for the profitability of a cattle farm that the animals become pregnant and give birth to a calf every year. The aim of our fertility bolus Fertitop is to support the preparation of the cow for oestrus and reproduction. This article shows you the results of 2 trials.

23 September 2021

Cryptotop becomes Coxicryptop

We have changed the name of Cryptotop to better reflect it's purposes

2 September 2021

A new look for Resco!

You might have noticed some changes if you already visited our website the last few days: Resco has a new look. Out with the old, in with the new! Let's walk you through the changes.

30 July 2021

The effects of essential oils in Cryptotop on coccidia

Natural feed supplements such as essential oils are becoming more popular as alternatives in animal production. In line with the growing attention, Resco is creating a range of phytotherapeutic boluses.

29 July 2021

Calf coccidiosis

When rearing calves, farmers strive for regular growth of their animals. This can only be achieved when the calves get enough food and when farmers ensure that the animals remain healthy. A common, yet underexposed, problem to the calves’ health is calf coccidiosis.

22 June 2021

Probably the best calcium bolus in the world

Resco improved the formula of its calcium bolus to provide a higher amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin D3 making it probably the best calcium bolus in the world.

25 May 2021

Discover our newest product: Aspitop

Resco is proud to introduce yet again a new product. After lasts month's Efferfizz, we now launch Aspitop!

19 April 2021

Resco introduces Efferfizz for calf rehydration

Recently, the immensely popular Effydral went off the market and Resco went to great lengths in order to come up with an alternative. We are very proud to present our newest product, Efferfizz.

29 March 2021

Milk fever in cows: everything you need to know, including 2023 update

Milk fever in cows comes with huge economical consequences. Click here to learn everything about hypocalcemia and keep up to date with the most recent research!

22 January 2021

33 benefits of trace minerals for cattle and why you should supplement them

Supplementation of the necessary trace minerals improves the overall well-being of cattle. But what exactly do all these minerals contribute to cattle? To give you an idea of the necessity of trace minerals for cattle we summarized the benefits of copper, cobalt, selenium, zinc, and iodine.

22 January 2021

Trial comparing High Trace mineral bolus for weight gain in cattle

The importance of weight gain in cattle means they can be finished earlier. Find out about the stunning results of a study by Dr. John Southworth comparing Resco's High Trace mineral bolus with the competition.

Viv Asia 2019

Bangkok, colourful city filled with sensational tastes, history, culture, ... and the wonderful VIV ASIA 2019. Make sure to share this experience with us on March 13-15 and visit our booth 2324 in Hall 102. See you soon!

RESCO @ WDE 2018

RESCO welcomes you at the World Dairy Expo. This event has become a fixed event in our agenda thanks to the mixture of national and international interest in our boluses. Make sure to visit us at booth MC70.

close

{{ popup_title }}

{{ popup_close_text }}

x