Lameness is one of the biggest challenges faced by dairy farmers and has been for over twenty years. Lameness ignites a negative chain that leads to reduced fertility and disturbed resting and feeding patterns in the affected animals. This result is a reduction in your total milk yield and output from your herd. According to the European Commission, as many as 20-25%* of a dairy herd can be lame at any one time, with associated losses averaging 2% of milk revenue.
The majority of cases involving lameness are due to disease of the hoof. Infection begins when an animal’s defences are challenged. Keratin, a water-soluble protein, provides the structure and strength to the hoof through interconnected sulphur - or ‘S’ - bridges. The greater number of these; the greater the strength of the hoof. However, ammonia in the urine breaks these down which routinely weakens the structure to allow infection in. Due to cows’ exposure to and contact with ammonium, they are more susceptible to ammonium weakening the hoof structure, meaning bacteria can get in and infections start.
What does a footbath do?
“We are led to believe that a footbath can cure lameness and treat issues such as digital dermatitis, but, in reality, this isn’t true,” explains Alison Cox, Diversey Agriculture’s Global Application Specialist.
- Lameness is a multifactorial disease with many sources, which requires a multitude of hygiene and management measures to ensure its control.
- Footbaths act only as part of a prevention programme and should support the animal’s own defences by optimising hoof hardness, denying entry to bacteria.
- An acidic footbath helps to reverse the breakdown of keratin, rebuilding the sulphur bridges in the hoof, and helping the hoof to harden again.
Further challenges are presented in the footbath: they become soiled when cows walk through them and killing bacteria forming in the treatment solution is a tough job. Many available product formulations are also far from sustainable. For example, Formalin’s efficiency is diminished in heavy soiling and it behaves as a nerve agent and can mask the early signs of a lameness condition. Copper sulphate, also commonly used, is not water-soluble, leading to significant environmental impact upon its disposal.
A more sustainable footbath solution to treat your herd
Diversey has developed Deosan HH+, a powerful, effective and sustainable solution product that has all the benefits of a strong acid complex:
- Helps to reverse the effects of ammonia,
- Hardens hoofs effectively to withstand the challenges of the environment,
- No negative welfare and staff safety concerns,
- Capable of functioning in a heavily soiled bath,
- 100% water-soluble when mixed with water even at low temperature, making it easier, safer and more pleasant to use,
- Kinder to the cow than formalin, and causes less damage than copper sulphate.
HH+ is not just a fall-back or a reactive option; its strong mineral acid also protects the animal from further degradation over time and offers a more cost-effective and efficient solution to the challenge of lameness. “Obviously, correct foot bathing management needs to be carried out hand in hand with other lameness management measures including good nutrition, which will promote the production of strong horn, and regular foot trimming that improves posture,” adds Alison. “Good hygiene management, particularly during the housing period, is also vital in terms of keeping the feet clean and dry so ensure regular cleaning of cubicles or yards and passageways.”