A recent study conducted by Cramer Lab (Gerard Cramer, Elise Shepley, Sair Ordaz) in conjunction with Dörte Döpfer and Kelly Anklam at the University of Minnesota has shown that Healmax, a footbath additive for the dairy industry, is just as effective as copper sulfate in preventing and treating foot infections in cows.

Digital dermatitis (DD) is the most commonly occurring type of hoof lesion on dairy farms, with a presence on 70‐90% of confined dairy farms (Cramer et al. 2018) and an average herd prevalence on these affected farms of between 5‐30% (Ariza et al. 2017). Digital dermatitis is also highly consequential for a farm, leading to decreases in milk production, reproductive success, and cow comfort and welfare, in addition to increases in the risk of culling and costs associated with direct treatment (Palmer and O’Connell 2015). Digital dermatitis can vary in severity, with more severe and chronic lesion types also being painful to the animal.

The study compared the effectiveness of Healmax and a strong copper sulfate solution in treating digital dermatitis, a common foot infection in cows. The results showed that both treatments were equally effective in reducing the severity of the infection and promoting healing.

While copper sulfate and formaldehyde have long been the go-to treatment for foot infections in the dairy industry, these chemicals come with environmental and human health concerns. Usage of copper sulfate footbaths to control hoof infections leads to buildup in soil. Copper sulfate does not readily dissipate in soil as it has the highest binding properties of all minerals.

Excess copper accumulation has been proven to cause interveinal chlorosis in corn, as a result of excess copper tying up available iron, creating a nutrient deficiency.

OSHA calls formaldehyde “a cancer hazard.” The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) calls formaldehyde “a known animal carcinogen” and “suspected mutagen.” As a result, some communities in the U.S. are now calling for restrictions on the use of formaldehyde on farms.

Healmax is an environmentally friendly, safe alternative. It is biodegradable and does not corrode nearby steel and concrete components unlike other foot bath additives. It provides an economic means of safely managing hoof problems without heavy metals, harsh acids or formaldehyde. Healmax contains a unique blend of germicides that remain effective in either hot or cold weather.

“Healmax has been on the market for several years, and dairy operations throughout the country have sung its praises as a safer and more environmentally conscious alternative” …said Rob DeMarco, President of AgroChem USA. “The results of this study further cement Healmax as an indispensable tool in the fight against hoof disease, with the science to back it up.”

Learn more about Healmax here!