Hoof - white or black

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Bright Raven
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Hoof - white or black

Postby Bright Raven » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:39 am

Ungulates are hoofed mammals. Hoofs are like our fingernails- they are made of a substance called keratin.

a fibrous protein forming the main structural constituent of hair, feathers, hoofs, claws, horns, etc.

On the Gimli Thread it was suggested that white hoof is inferior to black hoof. Both are made of a keratin.

Technology exists for measuring hardness, durability and strength. Is there any studies that have been conducted to support what might otherwise be an old wives tale?
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby BRYANT » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:57 am

I don't know about studies that was done vs. ''old wives tale'' but one thing I do know is I got a white mule with white feet and I also have a dun mule with black feet. If you ride them both together in the same place one right behind the other you had better have shoes on that white mule. The white mule wont go near as far on rocky ground with out shoes as the dun mule will. There is a big difference in how hard the hoofs are on these two mules.
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Bright Raven » Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:09 am

BRYANT wrote:I don't know about studies that was done vs. ''old wives tale'' but one thing I do know is I got a white mule with white feet and I also have a dun mule with black feet. If you ride them both together in the same place one right behind the other you had better have shoes on that white mule. The white mule wont go near as far on rocky ground with out shoes as the dun mule will. There is a big difference in how hard the hoofs are on these two mules.


That is a good comparison. Both animals subjected to identical conditions. What I am interested in, first: is there a study employing metrics. Second: has anyone identified the mechanism. The only difference that is apparent is the absence of melanin in the white hoof.
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Farm Fence Solutions » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:51 am

When I was in shoeing school, we put the hooves of several horses in a metered shop press. Black and white hooves from the same end of the same animal kind of thing. It was a dead split. Half the time, a black hoof would fail first, half the time white. Of course, there was no way to gauge sensitivity, but we did figure out how to gauge the pressure it took to shove a coffin bone out the bottom. Later in life, I talked a vet into doing it while watching with a fluoroscope after the necropsy was complete. It was very interesting to see the failure of the sensitive and insensitive lamina in real time. I would bet that the results of our experiments will never be officially recognized, but that's the conclusion we came to, right or wrong.

Edit to add: The horses were dead before we took their feet off and put them in the press.
Last edited by Farm Fence Solutions on Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Bright Raven » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:59 am

Farm Fence Solutions wrote:When I was in shoeing school, we put the hooves of several horses in a metered shop press. Black and white hooves from the same end of the same animal kind of thing. It was a dead split. Half the time, a black hoof would fail first, half the time white. Of course, there was no way to gauge sensitivity, but we did figure out how to gauge the pressure it took to shove a coffin bone out the bottom. Later in life, I talked a vet into doing it while watching with a fluoroscope after the necropsy was complete. It was very interesting to see the failure of the sensitive and insensitive lamina in real time. I would bet that the results of our experiments will never be officially recognized, but that's the conclusion we came to, right or wrong.


Now, we are getting somewhere. Tangible reproducible results.
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Farm Fence Solutions » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:47 am

Bright Raven wrote:
Farm Fence Solutions wrote:When I was in shoeing school, we put the hooves of several horses in a metered shop press. Black and white hooves from the same end of the same animal kind of thing. It was a dead split. Half the time, a black hoof would fail first, half the time white. Of course, there was no way to gauge sensitivity, but we did figure out how to gauge the pressure it took to shove a coffin bone out the bottom. Later in life, I talked a vet into doing it while watching with a fluoroscope after the necropsy was complete. It was very interesting to see the failure of the sensitive and insensitive lamina in real time. I would bet that the results of our experiments will never be officially recognized, but that's the conclusion we came to, right or wrong.


Now, we are getting somewhere. Tangible reproducible results.



You know me, better prove it if you want to spew it. :nod:
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Son of Butch » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:10 am

From talking with a couple of professional hoof trimmers both said they had to change blades more frequently when
trimming a Jersey herd (black hooves) than Holstein herds (white hooves)

It's only antidotal evidence, but these guys trim thousands of hooves a year.

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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Farm Fence Solutions » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:40 am

Son of Butch wrote:From talking with a couple of professional hoof trimmers both said they had to change blades more frequently when
trimming a Jersey herd (black hooves) than Holstein herds (white hooves)

It's only antidotal evidence, but these guys trim thousands of hooves a year.



Just for the sake of argument, aluminum is softer than steel, but eats a grinding wheel faster. Not saying that the black hooves weren't harder, just wonder if there is some property other than "hardness" that could cause the resulting dull blades?
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby redcowsrule33 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:12 am

You will find this dissertation interesting, namely page 38, top of page 86 and top of page 91.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/549d/4bd306c8f2fdc16c6478820ad833a85277a0.pdf

In it Winkler cites articles that showed that pigmented hoof horn had a lower capacity for water absorption and lower rates of wear, but non-pigmented was harder. There were no differences found in elasticity. I would think all would have an effect on the overall hoof quality.

Also research has shown that pigmentation has little bearing on the presence of claw disorders:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3227587/

I think we need to worry less about hoof color and more about quality/conformation. :2cents:
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Bright Raven » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:13 am

redcowsrule33 wrote:You will find this dissertation interesting, namely page 38, top of page 86 and top of page 91.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/549d/4bd306c8f2fdc16c6478820ad833a85277a0.pdf

In it Winkler cites articles that showed that pigmented hoof horn had a lower capacity for water absorption and lower rates of wear, but non-pigmented was harder. There were no differences found in elasticity. I would think all would have an effect on the overall hoof quality.

Also research has shown that pigmentation has little bearing on the presence of claw disorders:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3227587/

I think we need to worry less about hoof color and more about quality/conformation. :2cents:


I am on my way to visit my son. I thank you and will read this. Looks like exactly what the doctor ordered.
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby okiek » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:40 am

I don't know about official studies either but having owned over 50 horses over the last 53 years, and having done my share of horse shoeing, I can tell you it's more than an old wives tale (With horses at least). Not sure I feel as strongly as young Mattie Ross did in True Grit, but as she said,
"One white foot buy him'
Two white foot try him,
Three white foot be on the sly,
Four white foot pass him by

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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Nesikep » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:45 am

I've found family lines more important than hoof color... Perhaps there is correlation, but not causation. There may be differences in the keratin protein apart from color.

Also, depending on your area, it may be that hard hooves are not desirable if they're too hard to wear naturally while in hard ground you need all the hardness you can get.
If there was a real cause-and-effect between color and hardness, you'd think an animal with striped hooves would have hard and soft spots and it would show in the wear (I haven't seen it)
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Logan52 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:36 pm

Don't get me wrong, science has cured diseases and took us to the moon. Still, science can go off track and scientists are no more immune to bias than anyone else. Just look at the (butter is terrible/butter is good for you) studies, not to mention conflicting studies on cholesterol, eggs, red meat, and the beware the coming ice age (or global warming) scare headlines.
Have we lost all our common sense to demand a scientific study to tell us white hooves are softer than black hooves? Anyone with a paring knife or set of hoof trimmers can find this to true with across species with a little experience.
I am not wanting to attack anyone, just saying we sometimes today abandon common sense and take a study we don't really understand as gospel just because it has the word science attached.

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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Bright Raven » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:52 pm

Logan52 wrote:Don't get me wrong, science has cured diseases and took us to the moon. Still, science can go off track and scientists are no more immune to bias than anyone else. Just look at the (butter is terrible/butter is good for you) studies, not to mention conflicting studies on cholesterol, eggs, red meat, and the beware the coming ice age (or global warming) scare headlines.
Have we lost all our common sense to demand a scientific study to tell us white hooves are softer than black hooves? Anyone with a paring knife or set of hoof trimmers can find this to true with across species with a little experience.
I am not wanting to attack anyone, just saying we sometimes today abandon common sense and take a study we don't really understand as gospel just because it has the word science attached.


No need to get excited. If you are right then a well structured study helps provide confidence in what is otherwise anecdotal evidence. If however, a study indicates there is no difference between a pigmented hoof and a non-pigmented hoof, then maybe a closer look will prevent cattleman from following an old wive's tale. Either way, looking at studies is only common sense as you say.
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Re: Hoof - white or black

Postby Logan52 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:25 pm

Thanks for the advice, this illustrates why my blood pressure is high (without a scientific study to back it up of course).