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TheDairySite Newsletter - 07 June 2013

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Friday 7th June 2013.
Michael Priestley - Editor

Michael Priestley

Use Foot Baths As Prevention, Not Cure For Spring Lameness

Humid spring conditions have arrived, requiring farmers to monitor hoof condition continuously and rigorously trim and dip feet to prevent infection and digital dermatitis.

Keeping hooves dry is the best way to prevent lameness, which, after mastitis, is the second highest reason for culling cows in the US.

“Farms where cows spend more time with their hooves exposed to wet surfaces should use the footbath more frequently, at least twice a day until conditions improve,” says Alvara Garcia, Dairy Extension Specialist at South Dakota State University.

By using footbaths and hoof trimming, the likelihood of infections can be reduced, he adds.

“During the first hour of exposure to water the hoof gains one-third of the total absorbed. Excessive water softens hooves, easing access of infectious agents such as the one responsible for hairy heel warts (digital dermatitis). This is one of the leading lameness causes with 62 and 49 per cent cases in bred heifers and cows, respectively.”

Despite the benefits of hoof trimming, 20 per cent of US dairies do not hoof-trim their cows. Although not a problem on some holdings, Mr Garcia warns that failure to trim hooves results in uneven hoof growth and weight bearing issues that often compound stress on the feet and joints.

Of course not all farms are the same, he adds. Holdings with a preponderance of wet surfaces predispose lameness and cattlemen should look to regularly use foot baths in these instances to safeguard against infection.

“Footbaths can be used as a biosecurity measure when introducing new cows, but remember they should be used as prevention rather than cure of an infectious lameness problem,” says Mr Garcia.

Copper sulphate is the most common medication added to footbaths. Mr Garcia recommends a 2.5 to five per cent addition, or 26 pounds to every 62 gallons of water.

Replacing the solution is important as dirt accumulates in the trough, making the solution ‘inactive’.

In addition, Formalin – a solution of just over one third formaldehyde – is required at four per cent at a ratio of 10:1 with water.

In a worst case scenario Mr Garcia recommends the antibiotics Lincomycin or Oxytetracycline when infection is suspected.

Mr Garcia reassures that these efforts are worthwhile in stopping digital dermatitis, responsible for 62 per cent of lameness in bred heifers.

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This Week's Articles and Analysis

Investigating and Resolving Fly Complaints
An eight-step process of resolving complaints is outlined by the UK's Environment Agency in its publication 'Fly management: how to comply with your environmental permit'.

Spring and Lameness
Keep feet dry to prevent the passage of infectious agents and use foot baths as prevention rather than cure, advises Alvaro Garcia Professor & SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist

New Pasture Hope for Saltland Grazing
Melilotus Siculus, a cultivar of Messina offers grazing productivity increases on saline or waterlogged pastures and is set to be commercially available in 2015 thanks to work by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Use of Nutraceuticals for Improving Animal Health During the Transition Period of Dairy Cows
Feeding fatty acids such as omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid to peripatrurient cows can reduce common health issues such as inflammation, metabolic and infectious diseases, digestive disorders and oxidative stress, according to Italian researchers.

Feasibility of Introducing Methods to Reduce Shedding of E. coli O157 in Cattle
The use of probiotics in feed, vaccination of animals and a combined package of eight biosecurity measures were the main methods of a study by the British Food Standards Agency which shortlisted good on-farm controls for reducing E. coli O157 shedding in cattle.

Increased Irrigation Water Increases Maize Yield But Decreases Nutritive Value
Increasing irrigation to maize crops lowers the metabolisable energy contents of the forage, according to research by Dr Rafiq Islam at the University of Sydney.

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