Tremendous turnout for cattle lameness workshop

Veterinarian Roger Blowey has highlighted the increasing importance of digital dermatitis (DD) related infections that appear to be affecting the skin and hoof.  Speaking at a Cattle Lameness Workshop, hosted by Jubilee Veterinary Practice on David and Stephen Jackson’s farm in Bangor, he added:

“The first of these conditions, commonly referred to as toe necrosis or seedy toe, is seen as a non-healing, stinking open sore at the toe.

“No-one is sure how it starts, but once established it is very difficult to treat.  Part of the problem seems to be that the infection penetrates deep into the inside of the hoof, producing a honeycomb of soft, substandard and infected horn.   A related condition is the challenge of non-healing white line lesions, sometimes referred to as wall ulcers and DD infected sole ulcers.”

“Response to treatment is disappointing and in the more severe cases the affected claw frequently has to be amputated.”

So what can be done to control digital dermatitis?  As treatment appears to have a low success rate, prevention is clearly vital.  Prevention is based on the control of digital dermatitis, i.e. keeping underfoot conditions for the cows as clean and dry as possible, and by frequent foot-bathing.  Roger Blowey pointed out that an increasing number of herds are now foot-bathing cows daily, often twice daily, and this includes foot-bathing dry cows and transition cows at least once daily.  As in teat dipping for the prevention of mastitis, it is clearly much more effective to foot-bath cows to prevent infection from becoming established on the foot than to wait until infection is present and hoping you can do something about it.”

At the event, practice veterinarians Andrew Fletcher and Gareth Bell gave practical demonstrations of hoof trimming and mobility scoring. 

During his presentations at the workshops, Provita’s Tommy Armstrong discussed a number of factors which impact on the effectiveness of the foot-bathing procedures carried out on dairy farms.

There was a tremendous turnout of farmers for the event, which was supported by Provita, Moore Concrete and Zoetis Animal Health

Practice veterinarian Andy Mayne summarised “we were very pleased with the large attendance at this lameness event.  It highlights what a big problem it is and that we must do more together to tackle it.  Hopefully everyone will have picked up ideas on how to improve their herd mobility and ultimately profitability.  We are keen to help our clients achieve this.”