Category Formaldehyde

Treating Hoof Care for Cows Like Teat Care

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

(Adapted from a recent article in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel)

dairy cow hoof healthMastitis and lameness are two common problems for dairy cows – and their owners! Both cost producers time, production and money. However, both diseases can be viewed as similar in ways of prevention.

Early detection is the first step in preventing both mastitis and lameness. Prevention of lameness can be as simple as having a herdsman walking through the barns to check for lame cows, or giving hooves a once-over when cows are in the milking parlor.

Approach lameness detection with the same dedication you would in preventing mastitis.  Keep hooves dry, clean and cool to minimize the growth of bacteria that can cause diseases such as digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart). Wet, dirty and hot conditions are perfect opportunities for promoting bacterial growth.

Footbaths are another preventative tool. The more a cow’s hooves are exposed to footbath solutions, the more effective prevention will be. Just like teat dips on udders, footbath chemicals or solutions on hooves can help prevent costly problems down the road.

Footbath concentrates like HealMax and HoofMax from AgroChem are designed to obtain results and promote hoof health for reduced risk of disease and lameness. HealMax remains effective in higher temperatures and won’t flash-off like formaldehyde. HoofMax optimizes footbaths based on copper or zinc sulfate to achieve good control with less heavy metals and expense.

Talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer today about a hoof care protocol on your dairy.

Winter Hoof Care

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Winter is an important time to keep hoof health in mind. Footbath schedules and treatments may alter due to freezing temperatures. Although many anti-microbials may not be active during the winter months, hairy heel wart bacteria remain effective throughout the year.

Research done by Dr. Nigel Cook shows that January through March are when infectious lesions that lead to lameness are most active (see graph below). Dr. Cook examined 10 Wisconsin dairy farms over a one-year period to collect this data. “Cold weather during the late winter may lead to manure handling problems in the alleys and reduced frequency of the foot-bathing, triggering an elevation in the rate of new [digital dermatitis] infections,” says Dr. Cook.

AgroChem winter hoof care graph

Source: Progressive Dairyman

In freezing temperatures, footbath additives can become less effective. Formaldehyde loses its effectiveness below 45 degrees. HealMax Footbath Concentrate uses no heavy metals or formaldehyde to stay effective in cooler temperatures.

As an alternative to footbaths, farmers may consider using topical treatments in the milking parlor. HealMax Spray or Foam can be applied during milkings to slow down the progression of hairy heel warts.

For more information about cold-weather hoof care, contact your hoof trimmer or veterinarian today.

Treating Hairy Heel Wart in Heifers

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

heifer hairy heel wartHeifers shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to hoof care treatment. A recent article helps drive home the message that heifers are at as much risk as milking cows for digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart).

In a May interview, hoof health consultant Karl Burgi said that timed trimming in heifers, prior to calving, can go a long way in preventing future hoof problems. Timed trimming is functional trimming at the most advantageous times in order to optimize claw health and prevent lameness. “Springing heifers who have had timed trimming will have 2 to 4 point higher feet and leg scores throughout their productive lives, more milk in their first lactations, and less digital dermatitis,” he notes. “If a heifer’s feet are in good shape ahead of delivering that first calf, she won’t break down in the pasterns as quickly.”

Burgi recommends heifers should be trimmed between 10 and three weeks prior to calving.

On the subject of footbaths for heifers, Burgi believes they do help prevent infectious diseases like hairy heel wart, which may grab hold when dry-cow areas are neglected, or when transition-cow immunity is naturally compromised.

There are many different products are available for managing hairy heel wart and other hoof problems. HealMax by AgroChem is available in a foam, spray and footbath concentrate formulation. The spray can be directly applied to the infected area; the foam can be applied to the whole herd. When used as a footbath concentrate, it can be rotated with DuraHoof, which cuts down on copper sulfate usage. And unlike formaldehyde, HealMax remains effective in both hot and cold weather.

For more information about hairy heel warts and treatment, contact your veterinarian or hoof trimmer today.

Behavioral Indicators of Lameness

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

University of Guelph

Lameness can cost a dairy farmer up to $6,000 per 100 cows per year. For an individual cow, it may cost as much as $350 in lost milk, more days open, treatment and labor.

In order to better understand the correlation between certain behaviors and lameness, researchers at the University of Guelph examined the activity and production of lame cows versus sound cows on 26 automated milking system (AMS) dairy farms in Ontario, Canada. On each farm, 30 cows were gait-scored on a 5-point scale; those scoring less than 3 were rated as sound, while the others were classified as lame.

Researchers found that:

•Lame cows spent over half of the day lying down on average while sound cows spent one hour less lying down.
•Milk production for a lame cow was 75.8 pounds per day, compared to 76.7 pounds per day for a sound cow.
•Lame cows were only milked an average of 2.79 times per day, while sound cows were milked 3.12 times per day.

The changes documented in the cows’ behavior and productivity may be helpful in identifying and treating lame cows in both AMS and non-AMS barns.

Digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart) is a common hoof problem that can lead to lameness. Treatment options include the use of copper sulfate footbaths, and topical solutions without heavy metals or formaldehyde.

Footbaths can be installed in an automated milking parlor in exit lanes to ensure that each cow passes through it after being milked. Footbath products like DuraHoof by AgroChem can optimize the potency of copper sulfate for more cow passes, and reduce the overall cost of a footbath program. Producers looking for results without copper may prefer a product like HealMax, available in a footbath concentrate, spray or foam formulation. Both products can be used separately or in combination.

For more information about preventing lameness in your operation, contact your veterinarian or hoof trimmer today.

Summer Hoof Care for Cows

By Dale Baker & Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Cows in Summer (Hoof Care)As the business of summer takes over your schedule, your herd’s hoof care may take a backseat to everything else going on. Although it can be easy to let your footbath program slide off schedule, don’t forget it.

Some common mistakes dairy farmers may make when it comes to summer hoof care include:

1. Continuing to use formaldehyde. In hot temperatures, formaldehyde can flash off, making your footbath far less effective. However, products like HealMax are designed to remain effective, even in hot temperature, and are less likely to cause health problems in humans and animals. Here are some more reasons to avoid formaldehyde in your hoof care program.

2. The incidence of painful hoof lesions or an outbreak of digital dermatitis may be reduced in the summertime, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Painful hoof problems can occur year ’round. Pain leads to lameness, which can lead to reduced feed intake and lower milk production. Additives like HoofMax can increase the potency of copper sulfate in the footbath, for healthier hooves with more cow passes, less labor and waste, and reduced copper loading on land.

Remember, keep your herd on their footbath program so they can have a happy summer, too.

For more information about hoof care and treatment talk to your veterinarian, or hoof trimmer.

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.