Keeping lameness under control at housing

All too often, treatment rather than prevention is the focus of lameness management programmes in dairy herds. Prevention using regular footbaths is a key device for moving forward, argues vet and veterinary pharmacologist, Dr Tom Barragry, who explores a proven alternative to copper sulphate and formaldehyde.

Dairy cattle lameness prevention article on livestock farming website

Focusing on treatment rather than prevention of lameness can seriously impact overall herd health, with many indirect implications of lameness coming through unnoticed in metabolic disease and infertility. If lameness can be well controlled, the subsequent financial benefits will be clearly seen.

Digital dermatitis (DD)/Mortellaro disease is now one of the most common foot diseases attributable to lameness and is virtually impossible to eradicate once it appears clinically on farm as it is ever present in the farm environment.

Hooves soaked constantly in slurry show an increased incidence of this disease and also it can predispose animals to heel horn erosion known as ‘slurry heel’. Because of the change in underfoot conditions and the increased incidence and risk of lameness during housing, it is essential to apply a footbath daily to housed cattle. This is a really worthwhile investment because it helps to prevent the appearance of lesions of DD. Clinical lesions of DD/Mortellaro act as a huge reservoir of infectious bacteria, which can then spread this hugely costly disease to the rest of the herd.

A safe, ‘green’ approach

Using a safe, effective, proven and ‘green’ product like Hoofsure Endurance is the proper preventive approach for lameness; it significantly reduces the incidence of clinical lesions and thus the spread of foot infection across the herd. Field reports in the UK have indicated that foot bathing with Hoofsure Endurance after every milking has reduced lameness problems by 50% over several months.

Hoofsure Endurance is an environmentally friendly, holistic, viable and proven option, now available as an effective footbath alternative to copper and formalin. Its positive effects have been widely documented in the peer reviewed scientific literature. This unique biodegradable Provita product is a combination of organic acids, tea tree oil (TTO), and wetting agents. Organic acids are known to be very effective antibacterial agents with various modes of action.

Graph of Hoofsure Endurance results on livestock health article on farming website

Tea tree oil is naturally antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. It also uniquely degrades bacterial biofilm, which is the protective shield below which bacteria can replicate and invade further into the hoof, and is also a major mechanism of clinical resistance to antimicrobials. Very few veterinary products are effective against bacterial biofilm and this exceptional effect presumably explains the high field success rate of the Hoofsure Endurance product. It possesses unique penetrating action, modifies the local pH of the hoof, and stimulates healthy cell growth and keratinisation.

Graph of Hoofsure Endurance results on livestock farming article

Published studies comparing the microbiological efficacy of organic acids/TTO showed that Hoofsure Endurance was more effective than both copper or formalin against bacteria, had a quicker onset of action, and was more effective in the presence of organic matter in lab studies. See graphs 1 and 2 for a summary of independent field studies.

Hoofsure Endurance has been proven to reduce lameness by 44% compared to copper and formaldehyde. It is also much safer for the animal and user when compared to traditional options such as copper and formalin, with Hoofsure Endurance also being biodegradable in the environment. Traditional copper and formalin footbaths have numerous problems; copper is toxic to animals and to the environment, formalin is carcinogenic and irritant, and its fumes should be avoided.

Hoofsure Endurance research summary:

  • Digital dermatitis prevalence reduced from 77% to 12% in 10 weeks in Hoofsure Endurance footbath study and from 81% to 6% in Hoofsure Endurance spray study – University of Tehran
  • Reduction in digital dermatitis: Hoofsure Endurance 62% v formaldehyde 43% – Royal Veterinary College
  • Reduction in digital dermatitis: Hoofsure Endurance 62% v copper sulphate 46% – University of Kentucky.

Hoofsure Endurance testimonial summary:

  • 520-cow dairy, N. Ireland: 71% M2 lesion reduction in six weeks
  • 100-cow dairy, USA: Lesions reduced from 35 per week to three per week
  • 350-cow dairy, England: Only had one lesion within six weeks with Hoofsure Endurance.

New improved formula

With innovation at the heart of Provita, the dedicated research and development team have now developed a new improved formula. Utilising proprietary technology, the new formula is 33% faster acting bacterial kill and provides more contact time on the hoof. It is also cost-effective with 5,000 cow passes achievable per 20-litre drum (in 200-litre footbath).

The range also includes a gel, Hoofsure Konquest, to be applied to larger lesions with or without a bandage at the first signs of lameness. It has advanced bio-adhesion properties which help the gel stick to the skin and hoof. For immature lesions, Provita has developed a unique non-antibiotic spray, Hoofsure Combat – a film-forming spray containing tea-tree oil and organic acids providing persistent longer-lasting activity. Combat should be used for spot spraying in parlour or during hoof trimming. It provides a waterproof, breathable film which promotes natural healing.

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