THE FOUR POINT BLITZ APPROACH
to controlling digital dermatitis
· Identify all cows with an active or recurring digital dermatitis lesion
· Simultaneously treat all cows with an active or recurring lesion with a licensed topical antibiotic until a thick black scab develops on the lesion
· Prevent lesions by reactivating footbathing at a frequency dependent on infection pressure, and manage slurry in cattle sheds to reduce challenge
· Monitor, every four weeks wash feet off and inspect lesions. If new cases occur or recur, then review the footbathing protocol
“Digital dermatitis is the biggest cause of lameness on dairy units. It’s caused by a highly infectious group of bacteria – the Treponemes. Adopting a fire fighting approach and just treating the lame cows won’t bring the issue under control. Adopting the Blitz approach which includes identifying digital dermatitis by washing off cows’ feet, then treating and footbathing through an automatic footbath, is the solution.”
Feedback you can count on….
Mike Done, Wrexham
Step 1 – Clwyd dairy producer, Mike Done has reduced digital dermatitis within his family’s 200 cow herd from up to 50 cows per month requiring treatments to less than 1% per month over a focused two-year period.
“We’re aware that once digital dermatitis is present in the herd, then it’s almost impossible to totally eradicate, however our focused programme that featured the Blitz approach – combining treatment with footbathing which turned active lesions into dormant ones, keeping them dormant and preventing infection spread, has been a massive success, however we continually monitor the herd in order to keep on top of the situation,” says Mike who manages Asney Park Farm, near Wrexham, an organic unit with his sons, Matthew and Thomas.
Step 2 – Working with their vet, Dalesend Veterinary Group’s Guy Tomlinson, the Dones began the campaign to stamp out digital dematitis by weekly power washing the milking herd’s feet to identify lesions and then treat the next day with oxytetracycline spray. The treatment was carried out for three to five days until the lesion became dormant.
Step 3 –Next they invested in a new automated Hoofcount footbath. “We had Welsh grant funding and it made a significant difference to control,” Mike explains. “The 3.7m long footbath installed at the parlour exit automatically empties and refills after 200 cows have walked through it. Nothing easier than having to do nothing,” he says. The 2.5% formalin, copper and zinc sulphate foot solution is sufficiently deep to cover the whole foot and the bath is long enough for each foot to be dunked at least three times.
Step 4 – “Apart from any cows which were receiving antibiotic treatment, the entire milking herd was put through the footbath four times a week, and dry cows once weekly. Towards the end of two years, digital dermatitis levels were below our target of one case per month.”