Summer heat can be especially hard on your cows’ hoof health. To cool themselves, cows may spend more time on their feet—as much as three hours longer each day, according to veterinary researcher Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Cows also avoid eating at the hottest times of day, making their intake less consistent. Both factors affect hoof horn production and quality, ultimately leading to increased hoof lesions. Hoof health consultant and equipment designer Karl Burgi of the Dairyland Hoof Care Institute noted that lameness consistently peaks two months after the hottest days of the year. So while you may not see an immediate connection between heat stress and hoof lesions, it’s there.
To fight hoof lesions, including digital dermatitis, trim feet as needed and keep heat stress at a minimum. But if you’re counting on formaldehyde, don’t. Formaldehyde actually loses effectiveness at any temperature extreme, hot or cold. This is especially true in summer, when formaldehyde has a tendency to flash off at higher temperatures.
To combat hoof problems in summer and year-round, remember that biodegradable HealMax® products from AgroChem, Inc. keep working even in hot (and cold) temperatures. Safe for crew and cows, HealMax delivers results in as soon as a week and is available in applications for quick and easy spot treatment, whole herd coverage, and footbath concentrate.
For more information on maintaining healthy hooves in hot weather, consult your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.
SOURCE: “Prepare Cows’ Feet in May and June for Summer’s Heat,” Karl Burgi, Progressive Dairyman, June 17, 2008.
By Dale Baker
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Expert
Formaldehyde has long had a place in dairy footbath programs. It’s an effective hoof hardener, a powerful disinfectant, and costs less than copper and zinc sulfate. But formaldehyde has some serious drawbacks. Here are the top 5 reasons – in reverse order — why dairy producers should rethink the use of formaldehyde in their footbath programs:
• Reason #5: Formaldehyde is painful (for cows). The direct application of formaldehyde to raw lesions is extremely painful and stressful for the cow, and can lead to avoidance of the bath.
• Reason #4: Formaldehyde is irritating (to humans). Formaldehyde fumes irritate the eyes, nose, mouth and throat. Prolonged exposure may cause severe allergic reactions or loss of smell. Dairy producers must ensure facilities are well ventilated during formaldehyde application.
• Reason #3: Formaldehyde is flammable. Extreme care must be taken when using formaldehyde around any sort of open flame, including cigarettes.
• Reason #2: Formaldehyde loses effectiveness in hot or cold weather. Formaldehyde begins losing efficacy at temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and evaporates quickly in hot weather.
• Reason #1: Formaldehyde is a potential carcinogen. The Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) calls formaldehyde “a cancer hazard.” The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) calls formaldehyde as “a known animal carcinogen” and “suspected mutagen.” As a result, some communities in the U.S. are now calling for restrictions on the use of formaldehyde on farms.
Fortunately, products like HealMax by AgroChem, Inc. provide an economic means of safely managing hoof problems without heavy metals, harsh acids or formaldehyde. They contain a unique blend of germicides that remain effective in either hot or cold weather, with visible results in about one week. HealMax Footbath Concentrate should be used at a 2% dilution rate, with 300 cow passes per 50 gallons of water. There’s also a HealMax spray for spot treatments, and a foam formulation for treating the entire herd during feeding.
What do you use in place of formaldehyde?