Falling Temperatures, Rising Claw Lesion Problems?
Zinpro Expert Outlines Strategies For Infectious Lesion Control During Winter Months.
onset of cold, wet winter weather can present a unique set of challenges when
it comes to managing infectious lesions that cause lameness on a dairy.
many dairies use footbath programs throughout the year to help control
infectious lesions, use typically decreases during winter months due to the
potential for ice formation and the fact that some footbath products, such as
formaldehyde, are ineffective in cold conditions,” says Dr. Jeff DeFrain,
Research Nutritionist, Zinpro Corporation.
“The result is that the typical weather conditions can lead to a breakdown
in skin integrity, allowing easy entry of bacteria into the foot.”
(Cook, 2004) has shown that on most dairies in northern climates the percentage
of cows treated for infectious lesions, such as digital dermatitis (hairy heel
warts) and foot rot, increases during the winter months.
lesions can be caused by a variety of factors including: inadequate footbath
programs, dirty environmental conditions, stress, introducing cattle from an
infected herd, lack of claw maintenance programs and inadequate nutrition
“To determine if infectious lesions are a
problem in the herd, we advise producers to review their hoof trimming
records,” DeFrain notes. “By comparing the incidence of infectious lesions
versus non-infectious lesions, the primary cause of lameness can be
infectious lesions are found to be a problem during the winter months, Dr.
DeFrain offers the following management strategies:
Practice good biosecurity procedures
- All newly arrived cattle should go through a
footbath several times.
- Focus on keeping cows cleaner
- Frequency of pen/stall cleaning, role of
automatic alley scrapers, stocking density, barn layout and manure management,
walk- and alley-ways
- Improve effectiveness of footbath program (see
- Use cow leg hygiene scores (see Figure 1) to
help determine appropriate frequency of footbath use (see Table 1).
- Maintain a good micronutrient program
- Trace mineral nutrition plays a critical role in
building and maintaining strong, healthy feet. Research has shown that feeding
a combination of trace minerals (Zn, Mn, Cu and Co) in a highly available
complexed form helps decrease both the incidence and severity of common claw
- Maintenance trim cows at least two times per
- Helps keep cows off their heels, while also
opening up the interdigital space.
As the leader in trace mineral
nutrition, Zinpro is committed to delivering the people, products and
educational tools needed to help customers improve the performance and
profitability of their operations.
Sidebar: Winter Footbath Management Considerations
- Ensure cows have access to a clean area after
passing through a footbath.
- Stop using formaldehyde when temperature of
solution cannot be maintained above 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 5% copper or zinc sulfate solutions
- Use hoof trimming records to determine efficacy
of alternative commercial products
- Change footbath treatment solution every 150 to
200 cows. This frequency will vary depending on cow cleanliness, use of a
pre-bath, type of disinfectant or chemical concentration, biosecurity, level of
infectious claw lesions in the herd and weather conditions.
- Thoroughly drain footbath and rinse before
mixing a new batch of solution.
- On days when footbaths are not filled with a
treatment solution, consider filling the pre-bath (if used) and treatment bath
with a 1% mild soap solution. This can help minimize manure buildup on the
Additionally, if icing
around the footbath is a
problem, consider the following:
- Add salt or glycerine (glycerol) to footbaths
- Helps reduce freezing point of solution
- Have heated floors around the footbath
- Setup temporary footbaths in heated areas during
- Go to a spray program when footbaths cannot be
Figure 1: Leg Hygiene Scores and Descriptions
Table 1: Leg Hygiene Scores Help Determine Appropriate Footbath
| < 25
|| As required
| 25 to 50
|| 2 days per week
| 51 to 75
5 days per week