When it comes to health issues on a dairy farm, lameness is usually the main concern along with mastitis and reproductive issues. Lameness includes any abnormality which causes a cow to change the way she walks. It can be caused by a range of foot and leg conditions including foot rot, digital dermatitis, laminitis, and claw disease. Lameness can be influenced by nutrition, disease, genetic influences, management, and environmental factors. Not only does lameness cause pain and distress for dairy cattle, but it also has a large economic impact on the dairy operation.
Dairy & Livestock Agent Tina Kohlman collaborated with Extension Dane County Dairy Educator Maria Jose Fuenzalida, Extension Kewaunee County Agriculture Agent Aerica Bjurstrom, and UW School of Veterinary Medicine Associate Professor Dorte Dopher in developing, organizing, and presenting the three-part bilingual “Walking Strong Hoof Health” webinar series for dairy workers.
Designed with the Spanish-speaking audience in mind, participants learned how to identify, treat, control, and manage infectious claw diseases in the milking herd and the replacement herd, as well as herds milked in an automated milking system.
When it comes to managing digital dermatitis (hairy heel warts), the key facts include:
- One cannot cure digital dermatitis, only be able to manage chronic digital dermatitis in an inactive state to minimize the spread of the infectious hoof disease within the herd.
- When treating an active case of digital dermatitis, the foot wrap holding the medicine in place must be removed by 24 hours or it will serve as a warm, moist area for bacteria to continue growing.
- The frequency and concentration of footbaths must be monitored as to not increase but decrease the incidences of active digital dermatitis within the herd.
- Facilities play a key role in hoof health including the type of flooring, manure handling, bedding, and stocking density.
- The dairy replacement herd (heifers) can bring infectious hoof diseases within the farm. To determine the source of digital dermatitis within the heifer herd, look at the housing facilities of the heifers 60 to 90 days prior to the age group showing clinical signs and begin treatment in the younger group.
For more information regarding hoof health, visit the “Walking Strong” factsheet series at https://dairy.extension.wisc.edu/.