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September 29, 2023

The link between toe tip necrosis in cattle and flooring

By Murray Jelinski, Canadian Cattleman

Toe tip necrosis syndrome is a hind-limb lameness of feedlot cattle that develops days to weeks after arrival at the feedlot. This disease is also known by many other names: toe abscess, toe ulcer, P3 necrosis, toe necrosis, apical white line disease, apicus necrotica, and the list goes on.

The disease was first described in New Zealand as “transit-related lameness,” but it was Dr. F.L. Sick and colleagues who first described the disease in the early 1980s as an outbreak of “toe abscesses” in feedlot cattle in the U.S. Midwest. While we can debate the name, what is clear is the clinical signs and epidemiology (who it affected and when) are well known.

Sick’s original description of toe tip necrosis is as relevant now as it was 40 years ago. Toe tip necrosis syndrome develops soon after arrival at the feedlot. Lameness is nearly always in the hind limbs, but there is no obvious swelling. Animals may have a fever. The tip of the claws may appear rounded and worn, and on close inspection, there is always evidence of white line separation (the juncture where the hoof wall meets the sole).

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