Category Copper Sulfate Footbath

What is Dairy Cow Lameness Really Costing You?

dairy cow hoof healthBy Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

A lame cow is an economic liability on a dairy farm. On a 500-cow dairy with a lameness incidence rate of 20% and a per-cow cost of $90, lameness can cost a dairy operation $9,000 a year. A Wisconsin study estimated the total cost of a lame dairy cow to be as high as $300 per case.

Why is lameness so costly? Treatment, reduced feed intake, reduced milk yield, reduced fertility and increased labor all play a role.

Identifying lame cows can be problematic. Lameness scoring is a common tool used for managing hoof problems. Cow behavior can also be another way to sort out cows with lameness issues.

Overall, lameness can be minimized by increasing cow comfort, avoiding overcrowding, and developing and maintaining a treatment system. Most dairy producers routinely use footbaths to prevent and treat hoof problems, and minimize the incidence of lameness.

Footbath concentrates like HealMax and HoofMax can be effective tools in the fight against lameness.

HealMax is a biodegradable product which achieves results without formaldehyde or heavy metals. HoofMax optimizes copper or zinc sulfate in the footbath to remain effective even at significantly reduced metals levels.

To learn more about reducing lameness on your dairy operation, talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer today.

Strategies for reducing copper use in dairy footbaths

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Strategies for reducing copper sulfate in dairy footbathsCopper sulfate is an effective treatment and preventative for digital dermatitis when used in a footbath. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive, problematic to dispose of, and potentially toxic. The Winter 2016 issue of the Country Folks Cattle Production Guide details strategies for reducing copper use in footbaths, including:

  • Good hygiene practices to keep hooves dry and reduce potential cross-contamination
  • Footbathing intervals based on current leg hygiene and production stage
  • The use of additives (such as HoofMax or DuraHoof) to increase the potency of copper sulfate and reduce the amount needed for comparable results
  • The use of biodegradable footbath solutions (such as HealMax) to achieve results without copper sulfate or formaldehyde

You can read the entire article here.

Study Shows HoofMax Effectively Controls Digital Dermatitis Bacteria at Lower Copper Sulfate Levels

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

HoofMax Footbath Concentrate is widely used to improve dairy hoof health while reducing copper use and expense. A study of HoofMax Footbath Concentrate in an in-vitro system designed to simulate on-farm conditions found it to be a safe and effective means of controlling the bacteria that cause foot rot and digital dermatitis (hairy heel warts), using low levels (5 to 10 lbs) of copper sulfate. View the complete study here.

Footbath Schedule for Your Dairy Cows

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Dairy cow footbathAlthough the winter months may bring a schedule of its own, your dairy footbath schedule should not fall to the wayside. Proper footbathing at regular intervals helps prevent the spread of infectious hoof diseases. It can also lead to less lameness from painful dairy cow hoof problems.

Some producers may wonder, what is the main criterion for a dairy footbath schedule?

The condition of the cows’ legs determines dairy footbath schedules. “The more manure contamination on cows’ lower legs, the more frequently we must footbath. While some dairies with excellent leg hygiene may use a footbath only once a week, others must footbath 5 to 7 days per week,” says Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and creator of the scoring system.

As shown in the graph below, the scoring of a leg depends on its cleanliness; the higher the score, the dirtier the leg. Once a producer has scored all legs in the milking herd, the percentage of cows scoring a 3 or 4 determines how often the herd should go through a footbath (see graph below).

Dairy cow footbath, scoring chartSource: Footbath alternatives

Another factor that influences footbathing is a cow’s lactation. “Early lactation cows should be footbathed at the maximum frequency determined by the leg hygiene,” says Dr. Cook.

Producers should continue to monitor leg hygiene to alter their footbathing schedule as needed.

Footbath additives such as HealMax and HoofMax can help producers with overall hoof hygiene. HealMax delivers results without heavy metals or formaldehyde. HoofMax can help producers reduce their copper sulfate usage by up to 80%, lowering the cost of a footbath program.

Talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer for more information about footbath schedules and treatments.

Footbath Guidelines for Dairy Farmers

By Dale Baker
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Expert 

As the summer heat wave rolls in, some producers may be thinking about installing a footbath to better manage hoof health. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here are some general guidelines for installing and maintaining a footbath on your dairy:

Footbath Placement: Many veterinarians suggest putting the footbath in a well-lit, ventilated area of the barn, somewhere near the parlor exit lanes. By placing the footbath there, you can make sure each cow makes a pass after being milked.

Footbath Size:

  • 10-12 feet long
  • 28-30 inches wide
  • 10 inches of step-in height
  • One removable side wall

Remember: The sides of your bath should create a tunnel. Check out this illustration by Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Footbath Frequency of Use: Frequency of use for footbaths is based on leg hygiene. Dr. Cook suggests that cows be sorted based upon the hygiene rating of their leg area, with a score of one being clean, and a score of four being very dirty. Check out Dr. Cook’s Hoof and Leg Hygiene Chart here. Initially, your herd may need to use the bath once a day, but as you continue the program, they might only need to use it once a week.

Footbath Solutions and Additives: Solutions, like hand soap or rock salt, help clean manure off a cow’s leg. However, Cook does not recommend using only solutions. “Footbath programs should always contain one or more disinfectants,” says Cook.

The most common disinfectants used in footbaths are copper or zinc sulfate. These chemicals target the digit region of a cow’s foot.

To cut down on the amount of copper or zinc sulfate in the footbath, include an additive such as AgroChem’s  HoofMax. HoofMax can increase the longevity of copper sulfate, which can reduce both the amount of copper required, as well as the overall cost of the footbath. Or consider a footbath concentrate like HealMax to manage hoof health without heavy metals or formaldehyde.

Footbath Maintenance: In order to keep your footbath clean and efficient, monitor the following:

  • The pH level of the footbath should be between 1.5 and 4.5
  • Allow for 200 to 300 cows passes before changing the water. If using an additive like HoofMax, you may be able to increase the number of cow passes to 500 (for 50 gallons) or 1,000 (for 100 gallons).

By building a footbath, you can control an outbreak of Digital Dermatitis in your herd, maintain hoof hardness, and improve your herd’s overall health.

For more information about installing a footbath on your dairy operation, see your hoof trimmer, or veterinarian.

 

Footbath Dosing Systems Minimize Human Error, Improve Results

Copper Sulfate Footbath
By Dale Baker
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Expert

Hoof care specialists recommend footbaths because they provide consistent and thorough treatment of the entire hoof. However, accurate measuring and mixing of chemicals is critical. Even minor mistakes can result in footbaths which are ineffective or even harmful. When footbaths fail, human error is often to blame.

Footbath dosing systems minimize human error and labor associated with mixing chemicals for footbaths. Today’s advanced models not only deliver a precise, accurate quantity of pre-mixed footbath solution at the touch of a button, but can also be programmed for use with different hoof care products. These new dosing systems assure dairy producers of consistent, repeatable results for healthier hooves, and improve human and animal safety in footbath operation.

Make sure your crew is trained in the proper handling of powerful hoof care chemicals, and ask your hoof trimmer about automated footbath options for today’s progressive producers.

3 Tips For Healthier Dairy Hooves This Spring

By Dale Baker
AgroChem Hoofcare Technical Expert
Spring Hoof Care with AgroChem

Wet spring conditions pose a variety of hoof health challenges for dairy producers. Here are three of the biggest problems – and the best ways to tackle them for healthy hooves year-round:

  1. Control excessive moisture. Spring rains mean hooves and skin are subjected to moisture to longer periods of time, making them more susceptible to Digital Dermatitis (Hairy Heel Wart) and other infections. Repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles can cause mud and water build-up, and interfere with manure removal. Extra steps should be taken during this time to keep stalls, alleys and parlors as clean and dry as possible.
  1. Ensure footbaths are working properly. If you’ve reduced or eliminated footbaths during the winter, now is the time to get them up and running again. Operations using copper or zinc sulfate footbaths can follow this sample protocol for HoofMax. Producers who prefer to tackle digital dermatitis without heavy metals or formaldehyde can use a product like HealMax, available in a footbath concentrate as well as spray or foam. Decide whether or not a pre-wash makes sense for your operation.
  1. Adopt a proactive approach. Of course, the best way to prevent hoof problems and costly lameness is with a proactive, hoof health program year-round. Ask your local AgroChem representative about a hoof care protocol that’s right for your operation. For more information about proven hoof health solutions by AgroChem, contact your AgroChem representative today.