Also known as "hairy heel warts," digital dermatitis produces painful lesions that can lead to lameness in dairy and beef cattle, and the impact of lameness on animal performance is costly and wide-reaching. Most notably, this includes decreased milk production and poor reproductive performance in dairy cattle, and decreased feed intake and lowered average daily gain in feedlot cattle. Among researchers and industry advocates, it is widely recognized as the most prevalent infectious claw lesion in the world.
An understanding of how to identify the presence and severity of digital dermatitis is key to keeping the disease under control. Once the disease is introduced into a herd, it spreads rapidly and prevalence often exceeds 70%. There are five stages of digital dermatitis originally identified by Döpfer et al., 1997. From calves to heifers and lactating cows to dry cows, there is a need for an integrated prevention strategy that manages risk factors to help control digital dermatitis. This strategy should include: management, hygiene and nutrition.