Category Feedlot

digital dermatitis in beef cattle

Researchers say Digital Dermatitis is Increasing on Beef Cattle Feedlots

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Researchers at Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine recently said the incidence of digital dermatitis is increasing on beef feedlots, according to an article in Iowa Farmer Today.

Dr. Paul Plummer, an assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State, and a team of researchers have been awarded a three-year, $500,000 grant from the USDA to study the disease on feedlots.

Digital dermatitis, also called hairy heel wart, is a bacterial disease that causes painful, wart-like lesions between the bulbs of the heels. If left untreated, it can lead to lameness, reduced fertility and reduced performance in both beef and dairy cattle.

Dr. Plummer said it’s unclear exactly why digital dermatitis is increasing on beef cattle feedlots, but believes environmental contamination and management may play a role.

“Dairy farmers have learned to manage the disease and minimize lameness,” Plummer said. “But feedlots aren’t equipped in the same way to do that. Controlling the disease is a lot more difficult on the feedlots.”

Options for managing digital dermatitis on feedlots include topical salves, antibiotics and footbaths. HealMax is a biodegradable product, popular with dairy producers, which achieves results without formaldehyde or heavy metals. It is available as a spray, foam and footbath concentrate. HoofMax is a chemical additive designed to optimize footbaths based on copper or zinc sulfate, to keep copper working even in the presence of organic material.

Both products are available through AgroChem or your veterinarian. Visit for more information.