A highly infectious bacterial disease, Digital Dermatitis has been around in this country since the late 80’s. It’s caused by a group of bacteria called Treponemes that thrive in wet and dirty conditions, especially slurry. Once infected, the bacteria burrow deep into the skin of the animal causing very sore open lesions. The disease is prominent in dairy herds across the country and can also affect beef animals.
The most recent information on the disease puts the cost of one single case of Digital Dermatitis at around £80. If there is a high prevalence of the disease in your herd you can imagine it will be costing you dearly. Reduced yields, poorer fertility and higher culling rates will all affect profit.
Prevention is always better than cure! Infected animals it seems will never get over the disease, often alternating from active, sore lesions back to a dormant state after treatment. It is therefore much better to prevent your animals from being infected rather than treating them when its too late.
Foot hygiene is paramount, keeping yards as clean as possible and implementing a regular foot bathing regime. There are a few options on what product to use, most tend to find formalin or copper sulphate work best. Make sure the concentration is correct – a weaker foothbath more often will have more of an effect, vs a stronger one less regularly. There are some really good automatic footbaths on the market now which can be set to empty and refill with the correct amount of product after a certain amount of cows have passed through. Don’t forget the dry cows and youngstock too. Have a chat with your vet or vet tech who will be happy to offer more advice.
Written By Colin Hayden, Vet Tech