When hoof wear outstrips hoof growth, thin soles and toe abscesses often result, explains Jan Shearer, extension veterinarian at the University of Florida. This very serious condition is most generally found in heifers, but can occur in animals of all ages.

If you’ve noticed any toe abscesses in your herd, look for these signs to help determine the cause on your dairy:

1. A dramatic change in feeding in a previous month that led to laminitis and a subsequent toe abscess.

2. Abrasive floors such as new concrete.

3. Animals with soft hooves due to wet, muddy conditions.

4. Over-trimming of the toe and sole area.

5. Animals that are highly excitable, such as heifers.

6. Heifers grouped with older animals in overcrowded conditions.