Alberta’s Lameness Reduction Initiative (LRI) was designed to identify housing and management factors that contribute to the development of hoof lesions. The LRI provided an opportunity to improve collaboration, knowledge and communication between farmers, advisors and veterinarians and for each farm to identify weaknesses and design targeted management and facility changes.
At the 2018 Western Canadian Dairy Seminar, Dr. Gerard Cramer explained how cows can become chronically lame if damage to their hooves is not treated early and if there is no follow-up evaluation.
Danish researchers compared the efficacy of digital dermatitis detection in the milking parlour with and without first washing feet with a water hose. In all infected herds examined, DD prevalence was higher when scored after washing.
Whether to bandage or not to bandage after treating digital dematitis (DD) lesions remains controversial. Results of a study reported at the 2017 Conference on Lameness in Ruminants indicate that bandaging improved DD cure rates.
Researchers at the University of Guelph reported the results of a study designed to evaluate whether the ability of dairy cows to mount an immune response could be related to susceptibility to digital dermatitis (DD) infection. They showed that cows demonstrating a strong antibody-mediated response to an intramuscular antigen challenge had a lower prevalence of DD than cows showing an average or weaker response.
Nigel Cook recently reviewed current footbath practices used in dairy herds, questioned the mechanism by which footbaths function, and reviewed the available scientific literature for guidelines to assist in the creation of best practices for their use. Based on that review, a summary of his recommendations for footbath design and management is presented.
Sara Pedersen, a prominent UK veterinary consultant who specializes in hoof health, presented her recommendations for digital dermatitis (DD) control at the recent UK Cattle Lameness Conference. Her ‘blitz’ treatment approach is designed to break the cycle of environmental contamination of the bacteria that cause DD, recognizing that these Treponemes only survive in slurry for up to 24 hours.
Many studies have demonstrated that lameness reduces milk production. But which hoof lesions are associated with the greatest milk losses? UK researchers compared the effects of specific hoof lesions on milk loss over complete lactations of 1,824 cows in 30 dairy herds.
Prevention of DD focuses on biosecurity, maintaining good barn hygiene and routine foot bathing. Treatment of DD infections is typically only done by hoof trimmers at their infrequent visits—usually by applying antibiotic and bandaging for a few days. But, because new infections can rapidly advance, early detection and treatment is necessary to minimize new outbreaks of active lesions.
Over the past few years, researchers at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine have been working to develop a practical way to routinely identify and treat painful DD lesions in the milking parlour.
When troubleshooting lameness problems, I use a structured approach starting with locomotion scoring, lesion analysis and assessment of the routine hoof-trimming and lame cow surveillance program. I then examine the risk factors for each of the key hoof lesions and finish with a review of feeding practices. From this examination, we can create a herd specific action plan designed to maximize impact on the key hoof lesions on the farm.