To control digital dermatitis (DD), M2-stage lesions need to be treated as soon as possible after they are detected. Waiting more than a few days for the next time the trimmer is scheduled to visit will never get DD under control. Several studies have examined the accuracy of DD detection in the milking parlour compared with lifting feet in a trim chute. Results suggest that inspection of heels in the parlour using a simple mirror and headlamp is a viable option for routinely monitoring DD lesions.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin reported that heifers with pre-partum digital dermatitis (DD) had lower milk production, poorer conception to first service, longer days open and were more likely to have multiple cases of DD. Those researchers recommended that a DD control program should be a priority for pregnant heifers. But before a control program can be implemented, a reliable method of detecting DD in these animals is required. At the 2016 Western Canadian Dairy Seminar, University of Calgary graduate student Casey Jacobs described how she used ‘pen walks’ to detect DD in pre-calf heifers.
Zinpro has recently released a new book and app dealing with beef and dairy cattle hoof health. ‘Cattle Lameness: Identification, Prevention and Control of Claw Lesions’ is a Zinpro-led industry effort to assist cattle producers in improving animal wellness through the prevention of lameness.
In his past 30 years of hoof trimming, Vic Daniel has seen digital dermatitis (DD) become by far the most common hoof lesion in his clients’ herds. Vic has kept detailed records of the claws he has trimmed—for the past 7 years using the Hoof Supervisor® lesion recording system. Here are what Vic has concluded are the main risk factors for DD.
Dr. Ernest Hovingh, an Extension Veterinarian at Penn State University, has contributed 2 excellent webinars on dairy cattle lameness. Both webinars extend from details of hoof anatomy to best management practices aimed at promoting hoof health.
Current recommendations for the length of the dorsal hoof wall after trimming range from 60 to 85 mm; the most common recommendation being 75 mm. A British research study that examined internal claw structure using x-ray computed tomography (CT scan) suggests that the minimum external dorsal claw length recommendation should be increased to at least 90 mm for Holstein-Friesian cows over 4 years of age and at least 85 mm for younger cows.
Although housing and management practices play a dominant role in dairy cattle hoof health, genetics can influence the incidence and severity of lesions. A preliminary analysis of hoof lesion data collected in 3 Canadian provinces suggests that it may be possible to use this type of data in genetic selection. A project is currently underway to investigate the possibility of incorporating data collected electronically by hoof trimmers into the Canadian national DHI database. This would facilitate the collection of the large quantities of data required to accurately calculate breeding values for hoof health traits.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin evaluated the hoof health of 719 heifers for 6 months prior to first calving. In the subsequent lactation, heifers with pre-partum digital dermatitis (DD) had lower milk production, poorer conception to first service, longer days open and were more likely to have multiple cases of DD.
The International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) has released a new guide to dairy cattle hoof disorders, including definitions and illustrations of the important foot and claw conditions. The new Claw Health Atlas will facilitate genetic improvement of dairy breeds by providing consistency in identification and recording of these conditions.
Non-healing (nh) bovine hoof horn lesions, characterized by penetration of the horn capsule and association with white line disease (nhWLD) and sole ulcers (nhSU) are frequently encountered in dairy herds endemically affected by digital dermatitis (DD). Lesions of this type are associated with more severe lameness, often leading to claw amputation or slaughter and they respond poorly to standard DD treatment. Researchers in Austria recently described a successful therapy for such lesions.