Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 8

HERD HEALTH

EFFECTIVE FOOTBATH DESIGN, LOCATION, AND MANAGEMENT:
STRATEGIES TO PREVENT AND CONTROL INFECTIOUS CLAW LESIONS
by Arturo Gomez, D.V.M., Ph.D., dairy veterinarian
Europe, Zinpro Corporation

M

any dairy producers rely on footbath
programs to help prevent and control
active and chronic infectious claw lesions,
such as digital dermatitis (DD), in their herds.
Maximizing the effectiveness of a footbath

program hinges on three key factors: 1. foot
hygiene, 2. proper footbath design (size,
length and depth), and 3. effective footbath
management (chemical concentration, cow
passes per change, and frequency of use).
Footbathing can be used to quickly and
effectively treat a large number of cattle,
no matter the type of operation. However, a
footbath system that isn't properly designed
and managed can actually do more damage than
good. A poorly managed footbath can become
a vector for spreading infectious foot diseases
throughout a herd.
Following are some common questions (and
answers!) to keep in mind when evaluating the
effectiveness of the footbath program on a dairy.
Q: Can footbaths be used to treat active cases
of DD?
A: Footbaths are a lameness prevention tool,
designed to help avoid subclinical and chronic
cases of DD from progressing into acute, clinical
lesions. Footbaths SHOULD NOT be used to
treat clinical cases of DD. The only solution
to reduce the number of active DD lesions
is topical treatment (on an individual animal
basis). Early topical treatment helps reduce

8

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the duration of the infectious period for DD
lesions and increases cure rates. Consequences
of delayed treatment include increased lesion
recurrence (chronic lesion development) and
transmission of DD to healthy animals.

Q: Where is the best location for a footbath?
A: Footbaths should be located on a level
surface, in an area regularly traveled by cattle.
Cows should enter a clean, dry area after passing
through the footbath.
Q: How long should a footbath be?
A: An ideal footbath should be 10 to 12 feet
long. A minimum length of 10 feet ensures that
rear feet receive at least two immersions in the
footbath solution.

Q: How wide should a footbath be?
A: Footbaths should be 1.6 to 2.0 feet wide.
This is wide enough to ensure that cows can
walk through comfortably while minimizing
the amount of footbath solution and hence,
the amount of chemical needed to charge the
footbath.
Q: What is the recommended height for a
footbath?
A: Sidewalls of a footbath should be sloped from
a height of 3 feet above the floor of the bath to


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Perspectives - Winter 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Perspectives - Winter 2016

Contents
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Cover1
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Cover2
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Contents
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 4
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 5
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 6
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Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 8
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