Nearly every dairy in the US has an issue with digital dermatitis at one point or another. What are you doing to control it?

With winter right around the corner, you will have a real headache on your hands if you don’t have your hoof care under control.

Dropping temperatures and increased precipitation can wreak havoc on your herd and their hooves. Frozen and uneven ground, freezing footbaths and cold and wet surfaces are just the beginning of the obstacles you may face this winter. You need to be ready for these harsh conditions, and the best way to prepare is consistent hoof care ALL year long.

Freezing Temperatures & Footbaths

During a hard freeze it can be extremely dangerous to run a footbath. As the cows walk through the footbath they splash water out, creating a skating rink outside of the footbath and posing a slipping hazard for the other animals. It may be necessary to temporarily discontinue footbaths during extreme temperatures.

If a footbath is used during the winter, special precautions must be taken.  Many dairies use a Footbath Dosing System for automation. If you do opt for a system, the lines should be insulated or after use, the lines should be blown out to remove the water to prevent freezing. Positioning the footbath near the parlor or in warmer areas can also help to minimize freezing.

If you must suspend your footbath program during a winter freeze, we recommend using HEALMAX® spray or HEALMAX® foam as a preventative and treatment.

Increased Moisture

With the winter months, often comes snow, sleet and rain. The added moisture can create a soft horn and soft tissue leaving the hoof more vulnerable to bacteria and infection.

It is important to maintain a health hoof protocol especially when the risk for infection increases. Again, we recommend a regular footbath routine and when the footbath can’t be run, use topical treatments to maintain hoof health.

It’s important to assess what your lesions are, then you can determine protocol and decide what products are needed. Formaldehyde loses effectiveness below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and should not be used in winter months. For extreme cold temperatures, HEALMAX® Footbath outlasts formaldehyde every time.

Also, you don’t want to store your chemicals outside, it’s always a good idea to keep them inside when possible. And if you can’t keep them inside, purchase a thermal jacket for protection against the elements.

Cow manure can freeze and create uneven walking surfaces, so scraping and proper hygiene become even more important in the colder temperatures. Avoid rigid and uneven surfaces with consistent cleaning and make sure your employees understand the importance of clear walkways.

In addition, return alleys become slippery with icy walkways, and it’s important to scrape those too, keeping the walkways as safe as possible.

In Conclusion
The best way to maintain healthy hooves is to practice a consistent hoof health routine. In high moisture areas, it is important to keep the hooves as clean and dry as possible. As always, proper hygiene and nutrition are critical for overall animal health. We can’t stress consistency, consistency, consistency enough when it comes to your hoof health protocol and hygiene routine.