To control, manage and treat infectious lameness on farms, footbathing of herds is required – especially during the housed period when infection pressure in high.
Lameness is an issue that has to be managed on all dairy farms, with a wide numbers of causes potentially at the root of issues.
Heading into the housed period, issues which cows may already have which occurred during the grazing season, can be exacerbated – due to hard flooring and increased infection pressure.
Also during the housed period, issues with lameness can develop, particularly concerns like infectious lameness such as digital dermatitis.
To control lameness within dairy herds, footbathing of cows has a vital role to play.
If issues relating to infectious lameness, such as digital dermatitis and slurry heel have been identified within your herd, you should consult your vet about which footbathing solution is the best option.
Depending on the issues, products used for footbathing include formalin, copper sulphate and a number of other commercial products containing peracetic or organic acids.
Antibiotics are not licensed for use in footbaths because this contributes to the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), environmental contamination and ineffective treatment of the underlying disease.
The frequency with which cows need to be footbathed depends on the prevalence and severity of the disease within the herd.
According to Animal Health Ireland (AHI), it is best to consult with your vet to determine the best routine for your herd.
Herds with a high prevalence of digital dermatitis may need to footbath after every milking until the disease is under control.
Herds without a digital dermatitis problem may not need to footbath at all, but this will all depend on the advice of your vet.
For herds that currently do not have an issue with infectious lameness, you should continue to focus on biosecurity measures.
If you are operating a closed herd, you should continue to do so.
If you are purchasing in animals, you should be footbathing all animals on arrival and they should be quarantined for at least two weeks.
Their hooves should be checked regularly to ensure they are free from digital dermatitis and other types infectious lameness.