Vitamins, minerals and trace elements are all essential in cattle hoof formation and a supplement of the vitamin biotin, costing less than 10 a year, can halve white line disease.
But dairy cows needed to be fed a biotin supplement for six months before the full effect was seen in the herd, said Laura Green, Warwick University.
“This is because horn grows at just 4-6mm a month. So cells affected by biotin take this long to reach the surface.”
Studies have tried different levels of supplement, but continuous supplementation at 20mg a day has proven adequate.
Supplementation needed to be continuous, as the vitamin was water soluble, she added.
Some research also shows an increase in average herd milk yields of 500kg a cow over lactation.
Prof Green suggests this is because when cows are lame they produce less milk for up to five months after recovery.
“These savings in yield will cover the cost of the biotin supplement.
But it’s not a quick fix and reducing lameness needs proper management, housing, good milking surfaces, feeding and claw trimming, too.”