Digital Dermatitis in Cattle

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Digital dermatitis is a commonly found disease in dairy herds. It is also called strawberry foot because the infected area looks like a strawberry with its red color and hairs growing from it. The disease is highly contagious so it spreads very quickly throughout your herd, there are ways to prevent and cure it but it needs to be closely watched and managed with corrective action plans.

In the dairy industry; a lame cow is a problematic cow because she will not produce her potential milk production. A cause a cow might be lame is the disease commonly known as strawberry foot or scientifically know as Digital Dermatitis. It is a disease that infects the bottom of the foot just below the dewclaws. It is caused by the bacteria called spirochete bacterium or treponemes. It is very easily brought into the herd; it can come from walking in the barn with clothes or boots worn in another livestock facility or from the manure build up in your barn. It is common that cows get infected with the disease but don’t show any sign of lameness until introduced to high stress levels or environmental components that cause the bacteria to become harmful. It is hard for the farmer to diagnose the disease but when they do it is often too late. It is painful to the animal so they become lame and will cause their milk production to decrease drastically. When a cow becomes lame they will often spend most of their time lying down in the stalls, in order to create milk they need to walk around, drink lots of water, and most importantly eat their feed. Studies showed 1.7% of milk is reduced per day with the disease, infertility problems are also affected up to 20 days from calving to the 1st service (calving to first ...

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... a minute or two to wrap the infected foot and apply the powder. But they also said a good practice is to do a foot bath once or twice a week to keep up the treatments since you do not hoof trims a cow every week. It is simple yet effective because the cows usually have a return alley they need to walk though, coming back from the parlor. Why not put a foot bath there and fill it with water along with the formaldehyde or copper sulfate?

As stated there are many available solutions and proper practiced that must be taken to control the situation. There are a variety of treatments, the continued best option however is to not let it in your herd in the first place. With various companies and researches done daily striving to extract this problem from our industry; we continue to fight the battle to improve our herds and most importantly our milk production.

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