NJB Hoofcare - Frequently asked hoof care questions. for Exmoor, Somerset
- What advice can you offer re footbaths for treating DD?We have seen many farms operate footbath programmes to combat Digital Dermatitis. Often, these fail due to insufficient research, planning and monitoring of the process.
Then if DD doesn't get better or under control throw up their hands and say baths don't work, switch products, increase concentration or use multiple products.
Many factors determine success:
- proper length (10-12 feet)
- concentration (usually run too high)
- frequency (different every farm)
- # of cows put through FB (different every farm)
- neglecting footbaths and prevention with dry cows & pre-fresh heifers
- early detection and treatment of ulcerated lesions
Zero lameness is possible!
Foul in the Foot
- What steps do you recommend for prevention/treatment?Prevention
Good hygiene is essential, particularly where any members of the herd are suffering with the condition as it is infectious. Foul-in-the-foot bacteria may be more common around drinking troughs and in gateways where small sharp stone are present, which can puncture the skin between the claws allowing infection to enter. Effective slurry management is paramount, and regular foot bathing in a chemical solution such as dilute formalin or copper sulphate will help to control the bacteria responsible for infection. It may be advisable to isolate affected animals.
Antibiotic treatment will be necessary; the lesion must be cleaned, inspected and a topical dressing and bandaging applied and replaced on a daily basis. 'Super' foul, which is a more systemic form of the illness, may be more resistant to antibiotic therapy. Other foot conditions that can cause similar swelling to foul-in-the-foot should be discounted, and veterinary attention must be sought if the case is severe or is non-responsive to antibiotics.
General Cattle Hoof Care
- What causes of lameness in cattle do you treat?We deal with all the major causes of lameness in dairy herds, bulls and suckler beef herds. These include:
- Digital dermatitis
- Sole ulcer
- White line disease
- Foul in the foot
Helping to prevent lameness
- Do you offer advice and help in prevention of lameness?Yes, in addition to consultancy services, we also offer coaching and continuing professional development for farmers through a variety of workshops, seminars and training courses.
- How often should hoof trimming be carried out?As every herd's circumstances are different, there is no overall answer to that question. Every animal should be checked at least twice a year for any signs of lameness, more frequently if the animal has been prone to foot disorders in the past.
We are always happy to advise on the most effective scheduling and balance between preventive and curative trimming, so the best advice would be to give us a call or click in the header of any page to send an email and arrange a consultation.
- What methods do you use?We use a variety of methods, selected according to the animal itself and the condition to be treated. Mostly, the Dutch technique is used for hoof trimming, but we also use (and teach) the Atls method for white line disease. Every herd, every animal is different so it is vital to base the method selection on individual circumstances.
- What kind of restraint system do you use?We prefer an upright hydraulic crush, and bring our own to farms for trimming visits. We believe this is less traumatic for the animal than a rollover crush.
- Can you carry out mobility scoring on our herd?Yes, we are registered mobility scorers.
- What can I do to prevent or treat sole bruising?Prevention and Treatment
Sole bruising is associated with cows being housed in systems where they are confined on hard surfaces with poor levels of cow comfort; acidosis is also a leading predisposing factor by disrupting the blood supply to the foot. Reducing ruminal acidosis - by ensuring that diets are consistent and contain the correct balance of concentrates and fibre - will aid in the prevention of sole bruising, as will reducing the incidence of diseases often found around the time of calving such as metritis and mastitis.
Cows with poorly-shaped hooves where a metabolic issue is present may be particularly at risk. Most metabolic causes of lameness appear three to six weeks after the initial insult. Reducing overall stress levels, particularly during the transition period will also help.
Sole bruising is associated with other mobility problems, and so the conditions leading to bruising should be avoided. There is no specific treatment but anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to control pain levels, and over-grown and misshapen hooves should be treated by continuous trimming.
- What can I do to help prevent and treat sole ulcers?Prevention
The key to preventing sole ulcers is routine prevention trimming. This subclinical level of illness results in softer than normal sole horn, which is further softened when exposed to moisture and damaged by slurry. Similarly, good cow comfort levels - comfortable cubicles and even, undamaged and slip-resistant floors in cattle housing - as well as good-quality cow tracks are essential, in addition to regular, competent foot trimming, in avoiding foot trauma.
Sole ulcer lesions need to be trimmed carefully by a competent trimmer. The aim is to transfer weight bearing to the sound, healthy claw and in order to achieve this, the opposing claw may be fitted with a block, lifting the affected claw, relieving the pressure and providing an opportunity for the ulcer to heal. The sole can be very carefully trimmed away and 'dished-out' around the ulcer, in order to remove pressure, but any tissue protruding from the ulcer should not be excised or treated with any caustic agent, as this can be painful and slow the healing process.
White Line Disease
- What can I do to help prevent, or to treat white line disease?Prevention
As it is important that cows are not forced to change direction and pivot rapidly - which can place excessive force on the hoof and result in a rupture of the white line - this means that reducing the incidence of dominant cows bullying should be a prime focus area and cows should be handled quietly and competently, as white line problems tend to be exacerbated by the impact of movement, particularly among cattle housed on hard surfaces. Passageways and collecting and loafing areas need to be kept as free as possible of stones.
A separation of the white line without other complications is often seen when feet are inspected and trimmed. A routine inspection of the sole should include the complete examination of the white line area; black marks should be examined as potential sites for the formation of track of infection, but care should be taken not to over-trim the weaker white line area.
As with sole ulcer lesions, white line lesions need to be trimmed carefully by a competent trimmer and can benefit from the relief of pressure on the affected claw by the application of a block to the healthy claw. Local abscesses can be allowed to drain by removing a segment of the wall adjacent to the lesion. Swelling of the heel bulb can represent the most advanced form of this condition and could be misdiagnosed as foul-in-the-foot. Severe cases are likely to benefit from the attention of a vet.