Is digital dermatitis a problem on your farm? Routine foot bathing is the most practical method of control, but to be successful it must be carried out effectively, writes CAFRE’s Christopher Brian.
Without regular foot bathing, the incidence of digital dermatitis will increase weekly during the winter.
Ideally, provide a double foot bath, a bath to wash the cow’s feet, followed by a treatment bath. The wash bath is needed to remove dung which reduces the effectiveness of the chemical in the treatment bath.
If there is not enough space to fit in a double bath, wash the cow’s feet with a hose before they leave the parlour on the way out to the footbath.
To allow the chemical time to penetrate, the cow needs to take at least three strides through the treatment bath.
For this to happen, the bath must be at least three-metres long. Fill the bath to a depth of 10 cm to ensure the foot is covered up to the top of the hoof. The frequency of treatment depends on the incidence of infection in the herd. The minimum regime is to bathe after four consecutive milkings each week
It is important to make up the foot bath mixture accurately using the recommended amount of chemical. Dilute mixes are not effective.
More concentrated mixes may damage cow’s feet leading to more incidences of lameness. Using the correct amount of chemical also applies when topping up the footbath. Measure accurately, don’t guess!