“Should we run a treatment protocol? Or a maintenance protocol?” That’s a question hoof trimmers hear a lot. To answer it, we first need determine exactly which hoof issues are present. Are we dealing with claw horn lesions? Infections? Hairy heel wart?

Second, we determine the prevalence of hoof problems in the entire herd. If the prevalence is low, your trimmer will most likely recommend a maintenance protocol to improve hoof hygiene. The approach developed by Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an excellent guide for assessing and managing hoof problems based on prevalence and hygiene.

If hoof hygiene is basically good, the maintenance footbath could run for as few as three days. However, fresh cows and heifers coming into the milking parlor can lead to a second infectious outbreak or increase in hoof problems. These problems can be addressed by running the newcomers through a footbath or by using a topical product like HealMax® Wart Spray.

In the case of an obvious outbreak, or a high percentage of herd with hoof problems, a treatment protocol is usually recommended. This may require running the footbath for at least five to seven consecutive days until the issue is resolved. At that point, we can switch to a maintenance protocol.

For questions about treatment and maintenance protocols in your dairy operation, contact your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.