Category Hairy Heel Wart

Digital Dermatitis Control Starts with Heifers

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

dairy cow hoof healthSpring time means freshening heifers for many dairy producers. New cows in the milking herd bring increased milk production and perhaps a few other things, like digital dermatitis.

To control the spread of digital dermatitis, studies have suggested that treatment of the disease must start with heifers.

“Digital dermatitis control must start during the heifer-rearing period,” says Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who co-authored a recent study that looked at the progression of digital dermatitis in a dairy herd over 5 years. The results suggested that prompt topical treatment throughout the life cycle of a cow can help control digital dermatitis.

Also called hairy heel warts, digital dermatitis is an infectious disease that can lead to lameness in dairy cows. The disease can be managed through copper or zinc sulfate footbaths or topical treatments. Afflicted cows will have reddened and painful wart-like areas on their hooves.

“If your lactating herd has digital dermatitis and there is no dry cow or pre-lactating heifer preventative footbath program, you will always be taking two steps forward and three steps back,” says Jamie Sullivan in a recent article published in Progressive Dairyman.

Sullivan calls digital dermatitis “mastitis of the foot,” and suggests handling it the same way that mastitis is treated. “If a cow has mastitis, would you just dip her teats more?” she asks, “No. Apply the same concept for footbaths and digital dermatitis.”

Footbath products like HoofMax can cut the cost of a footbath program by using up to 80% less copper sulfate. HealMax Footbath Concentrate delivers results without the use of formaldehyde, and is ideal for whole-herd application HealMax Spray can be applied in the milking parlor as needed, and HealMax Foam is ideal for whole-herd application.

For more information about footbathing your heifers, talk to your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.

The Battle with Digital Dermatitis

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart) is an ongoing battle for many dairy producers. In this recent article in Dairy Herd Management, Dr. Gabe Middleton outlines how producers can identify the stages of digital dermatitis, and different ways of treating an outbreak.

Common treatments for digital dermatitis are topical salves and footbaths. HealMax Spray from AgroChem is a spot-on application that can be placed directly on digital dermatitis warts. As Dr. Middleton points out, footbaths are important for the prevention of a digital dermatitis outbreak. To reduce the cost of a footbath, consider HoofMax Footbath Concentrate, which can reduce copper sulfate usage by up to 80%. Or to eliminate the use of heavy metals and formaldehyde in your footbath, there is HealMax Footbath Concentrate.

For more information about digital dermatitis and how to treat it, talk to your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.

Classification and Treatment of Digital Dermatitis

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Hary Heel Wart - Digital DermatitisDigital dermatitis, or hairy heel wart, is a widespread and prevalent disease among beef and dairy cattle which can have long term and severe impacts on herd health and productivity. This is a condition that dairy farmers cannot ignore and hope that it goes away. In an October 2015 article by Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor for Hoard’s Dairyman, she states:

Management commitments to hoof health are necessary to reduce the prevalence of the disease in the herd.

To care for your cows, you need a long-term strategy that begins with classification of the disease, and a commitment to treatment and management. 

Classification
An excellent method of digital dermatitis classification was introduced by Dörte Döpfer and associates in the 1990s which classifies warts into five different categories:

  • None: No lesions present.
  • Small: Affected area less than 3/4”, red to gray in color, and normal walking.
  • Large: Affected area larger that 3/4”, bright red or red-gray, walking is painful.
  • Healing: Scab covering affected area and becoming smaller.
  • Chronic: characterized by hard and thickened skin and/or continuous warts. Cows with warts in this category can suffer from chronic lameness.

Treatment and Management
Experience teaches that better outcomes prevail when treatment occurs before a large growth appears. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for managing hairy heel wart:

  • Topical salves
  • Antibiotics
  • Footbaths

AgroChem offers excellent options for dairy hoof problems. HealMax® is a biodegradable formula which achieves results without formaldehyde, heavy metals or harsh acids. It is available in a spray, foam, and footbath concentrate formulation, and remains effective in both hot and cold weather. HoofMax® is a footbath additive that can increase the potency copper or zinc sulfate for healthier hooves with more cow passes, less labor and waste, and reduced copper loading on land.

What about prevention?
The bad news is that hairy heel wart is widespread and extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate. However, despite its prevalence, the good news is that this debilitating disease can be managed effectively. Producers who aren’t sure where to start might consider beginning their management program with fresh cow groups which are vulnerable to infection. With proper management, dairy farmers and ranch operations can reap the benefits of long term herd health and productivity.

For more information about digital dermatitis, talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer 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.

Visit us at Empire Farm Days.

If you’re at Empire Farm Days, stop by and say Hello to AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Expert Chip Hendrickson. He’s ready to answer your questions about everything from copper sulfate footbaths to hairy heel warts!

Chip Hendrickson Hoof Health Solutions

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.

 

Hoof Care Protocol: Treatment or Maintenance?

How often should I run a footbath?By Dale Baker
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Expert

“Should we run a treatment protocol? Or a maintenance protocol?” That’s a question hoof trimmers hear a lot. To answer it, we first need determine exactly which hoof issues are present. Are we dealing with claw horn lesions? Infections? Hairy heel wart?

Second, we determine the prevalence of hoof problems in the entire herd. If the prevalence is low, your trimmer will most likely recommend a maintenance protocol to improve hoof hygiene. The approach developed by Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an excellent guide for assessing and managing hoof problems based on prevalence and hygiene.

If hoof hygiene is basically good, the maintenance footbath could run for as few as three days. However, fresh cows and heifers coming into the milking parlor can lead to a second infectious outbreak or increase in hoof problems. These problems can be addressed by running the newcomers through a footbath or by using a topical product like HealMax® Wart Spray.

In the case of an obvious outbreak, or a high percentage of herd with hoof problems, a treatment protocol is usually recommended. This may require running the footbath for at least five to seven consecutive days until the issue is resolved. At that point, we can switch to a maintenance protocol.

For questions about treatment and maintenance protocols in your dairy operation, contact your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.