Category HealMax

3 Things That Can Jeopardize Any Footbath Routine

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Footbaths are an essential part of your hoof care routine to prevent lameness and disease.  It is important to use footbaths for the prevention AND treatment of hoof problems. Far too often, we see dairymen initiate a footbath routine only after an outbreak has occurred.

If implemented properly, a consistent footbath routine will be one of the best things you can do for your herd’s hoof health and your milk production. Here are the top 3 mistakes to avoid on your dairy.

1. Human Error

We all make mistakes, after all, we are only human. Often, we see different people running footbaths using inconsistent approaches. When different people are giving footbaths on different days, mistakes can be made. Even if the same person does the footbath routine, human error can and often does occur.

It’s important to mix the accurate amount of water to the proper concentrate to provide an effective and safe footbath for your herd. Always be consistent and carefully follow the label instructions. If too much footbath solution is used, it could be dangerous for your herd. If too much water is used, your footbath will not be strong enough to kill the bacteria.

If you’re looking for a better way to run a consistent footbath routine, consider a footbath dosing system. It automates your footbath program and provides the accurate amount of water and concentrate every single time.

If a footbath dosing system isn’t for you, please don’t allow an inexperienced employee run your footbaths! There is too much at stake. Always try to have an experienced staff member draw your footbaths. And while it isn’t ideal to have multiple people running your footbaths, you should train more than just one person; this way you’re always covered if someone’s sick or out of work.

     2. Improper Footbath Size

It’s imperative to have the proper sized footbath for number of cows passing through. This will depend on the number of cows you have on your dairy and whether you are looking for a replenishing system or a conventional system. We have outlined the guidelines for both methods below:

Replenishing System:
Ideal for dairies over 1000+ cows
Size: Up to 8’ footbath works best
Sides should be 6-8” high

Benefits:
Replenishing systems reduce overall costs and use less product resulting in huge reductions in cost per cow pass and they are typically less expensive to run than using formaldehyde alone.  In addition, manual labor demand is reduced it can be set up to turn on automatically.

Conventional System:
Good for approximately 200 cow passes before changing
Size: There is no one size solution for a conventional system.
Product/Water Level: Keep footbath depth 3 ½”-4”

3. Lack of consistency

Many times, we see dairymen only use footbaths as a treatment after the herd has been struck with digital dermatitis. Really, a footbath should be used as a preventative method to avoid any outbreaks.

On an average dairy farm, footbaths should be run a minimum of 3 days a week and more frequently if there are existing hygiene issues. If you use manure solids or reused solid beds; footbaths will be needed more frequently. The hot summer months will also require more footbaths as sprinklers (if used) create damp conditions and could lead to potential problems.

Footbaths will always be a critical part of your hygiene routine. While there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to your footbath routine, you will need to do what is best to maintain the health of your herd. If you don’t already have one, find yourself a qualified and experienced hoof trimmer; they’ll be your best line of defense to prevent disease and keep your herd as healthy and as comfortable as possible.

How Dairy Barn Design Affects Hoof Health

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

dairy cow hoof health barn designBuilding a new barn can be an exciting experience. However, don’t overlook the importance of hoof health in design and materials.

Poor stall design can increase the amount of standing time for the cow, leading to an increase in the risk of lameness or hoof problems. Stall surface options, such as sand or mattress beds, are another design choice that impact hoof health. Studies have found a lower incidence of lameness in barns that use deep sand bedding. For barns using mattress beds, lameness can be reduced when following the following practices: observing cows to measure locomotion, moving lame cows to a dedicated area near the milking parlor, timely hoof trimming, avoiding overstocking, reducing lock-up time and allowing lame cows to spend less time on their feet.

Footbath placement is an additional consideration when designing a barn. One way to ensure that all cows visit a footbath once a day is by placing it in the milking parlor exit lanes. Footbath frequency and size vary for each farm, but the recommended size for a footbath is at least 10 feet long, and usually cows go through it at least once a week.

Daily barn maintenance is a practice that continues long after a new barn is completed, but if it falls to the wayside, hooves can be affected. Wet, slippery, over-crowded alleys and pens increase the potential for physical injury, and expose hooves to bacteria-laden waste and water. Ensure that alley scrapers are running on a normal schedule and that cows have a chance to spread out in the barn to reduce over-crowding.

Regardless of barn design, quality hoof care products are essential for keeping cows healthy and mobile. Additives such as HealMax and HoofMax by AgroChem can reduce footbath costs and help manage hoof diseases such as hairy heel warts. HealMax is available in a foam, spray and footbath concentrate formulation; a new formulation is now available with a small, effective amount of copper. HoofMax is a footbath additive that can increase the potency of copper or zinc sulfate for healthier hooves with more cow passes per footbath, less labor and waste, and reduced copper loading on land. DuraHoof is an all-in-one pre-mixed additive that contains just the right amount of HoofMax, and copper and cleaning agents for economical hoof care.

For more information about barn design and its effect on hoof health, talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer.

Much of this information was sourced from Greg Blonde, University of Wisconsin-Extension http://fyi.uwex.edu/dairy/files/2016/11/Hoof-Health-Housing-Factsheet-Blonde-2.pdf

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.

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.

Is Your Veterinarian Helping Prevent Hoof Problems on Your Dairy Farm?

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

With summer just around the corner, farmers may be seeing more of their veterinarians. Freshening cows, pregnancy checks and difficult birthings may be on the top of the list for a vet’s visit. However, are cows’ hooves being looked at, too?

“An area that has not been actively pursued by veterinarians is the area of actively monitoring hoof health on a routine basis,” said Dr. Gerard Cramer in a 2015 study from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.

“As a starting point, veterinarians can work with hoof trimmers and farm staff to establish and standardize the recording systems,” said Dr. Cramer.

Although a majority of dairy farms have a hoof trimmer, some trimmers do not keep records of hoof problems, such as digital dermatitis. Once veterinary records are established, producers can monitor which cows have hoof problems and how they are being treated. Records can also assist with crew training.

“Possibly the greatest opportunity for veterinarians to get involved in hoof health is for them to provide training and monitoring programs for on-farm staff,” says Dr. Cramer. Senior workers may not have time to review the importance of hoof care with new employees. That’s where veterinarians can step in to help teach new workers.

Once crew members can correctly monitor hoof health, they can help determine frequency of footbathing. Hoof problems like digital dermatitis can decrease in a herd with proper treatment at the right time. Early diagnosis of hoof problems can reduce production loss, emergency vet or hoof trimmer visits, and cullings.

With its multiple formulations, HealMax from AgroChem gives producers several options. “Used correctly, HealMax delivers positive results in one week. I would recommend it to anyone whether or not they have a [digital dermatitis] issue,” says Dr. Mark Whelan.

Ask your veterinarian how he or she can help with your dairy’s hoof health this summer and year ’round.

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.

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.