Proximate composition of bovine digital cushion
Author(s): NS Sunilkumar, AR Sreeranjini, N Ashok, S Maya, TV Aravindakshan and MK Narayanan
Abstract: The digital cushion in cattle, comprised of fat and connective tissues, plays a critical role in supporting hoof integrity and mitigating lameness. However, little is known about its proximate composition in different age groups and its association with claw horn disruption lesions (CHDL). In this study, digital cushions were collected from cattle at a slaughter facility and categorised into four groups, viz. heifers, cows of first to third parities, cows beyond third parity, and cows with CHDL. Proximate composition analysis revealed significant variations in moisture content, total ash, protein, fibre, and fat among these groups. Heifers exhibited the highest protein content, possibly attributed to the prevalence of elastic fibres. In contrast, cows in their first to third parities displayed the highest fat content, indicating fat deposition with maturity. Animals suffering from CHDL had the lowest moisture and fat content in their digital cushions. These findings can contribute to our understanding of digital cushion health and its potential role in preventing CHDL, enhancing the welfare of cattle, and maintaining their productivity.