Tag Archives: Digital Dermatitis

Winter Hoof Care: What You Need to Know

Nearly every dairy in the US has an issue with digital dermatitis at one point or another. What are you doing to control it?

With winter right around the corner, you will have a real headache on your hands if you don’t have your hoof care under control.

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.

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.

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.

Attention Hoof Trimmers! The Hoof Health Conference is Coming Soon!

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Hoof Trimmer's Association logoAre you attending this year’s Hoof Health Conference? We are!

The conference will be held in Atlanta, GA, from February 18-20. Registration is still open on the Hoof Health Conference website.

The featured speaker this year will be Dr. Jan Shearer, who recently finished a survey on lameness disorders and how they are treated across North America. Dr. Shearer was also the subject of our blog on digital dermatitis in feedlots.

Other Conference topics include non-healing lesions, heat stress and hoof health, and a look at hoof problems in Great Britain. Some of the speakers include Dr. Jennifer Walker, a specialist on dairy cow welfare, Dr. Sara Pedersen, a hoof health consultant from Great Britain, and Dr. Chuck Guard, a Cornell University large animal veterinarian. Click here for the full schedule and other important information.

Hope to see you there!

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.