Digital Dermatitis/Availa®Plus FAQ

Digital Dermatitis (DD) is a common infectious foot disease in dairy and beef cattle herds. The disease begins when skin integrity is compromised and, if left untreated, DD lesions can lead to severe and debilitating lameness.

Availa®Plus, when fed as part of a specific DD Formula and a well-balanced diet, has been shown to significantly decrease DD prevalence and severity in non-lactating cattle. Availa-Plus contains a combination of Availa®Zn (zinc amino acid complex), Availa®Mn (manganese amino acid complex), Availa®Cu (copper amino acid complex), COPRO® (cobalt glucoheptonate) and potassium iodide.

In the videos below, Dr. Mike Socha and Dr. Dana Tomlinson provide answers to frequently asked questions related to DD and Availa-Plus.

To read answers, click the + symbol. To view the video response, click the play button.

Digital Dermatitis (DD)

Why should dairy producers care about digital dermatitis?
(Dr. Mike Socha)

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Digital Dermatitis (DD) causes reduced animal performance. When animals are infected, average daily gain, milk production and fertility can decrease. DD prevention improves overall animal health and performance, as well as animal well-being.

Why is it so important to prevent digital dermatitis early in an animal’s life?
(Dr. Mike Socha)

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The best way to control digital dermatitis (DD) is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Focusing on young heifers as an investment, and bringing them into their first lactation healthier in terms of claw diseases, is highly beneficial for their productive lives. Once an animal becomes infected with a DD lesion, it is very difficult for the animal to overcome the infection and is commonly infected for life.

Why is it important for a heifer to reach first lactation with healthy feet?

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Feeding Availa-Plus during the heifer’s growing phase enables her to develop healthy, sound claws going into lactation. This leads to a decreased occurrence of lameness during lactation and, subsequently, heifers are able to achieve superior performance in the post-calving period. Additional benefits to the animal include an enhanced immune system, leading to reduced mastitis and somatic cell counts going into first lactation.

Availa-Plus/DD Formula

What are the benefits of the DD Formula and Availa-Plus?
(Dr. Dana Tomlinson)

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Within 90 days or more of feeding the DD Formula with Availa-Plus, obvious benefits can be seen. Animals typically have reduced incidence of digital dermatitis. In addition, producers may notice improved reproductive performance and feed conversion. 

What is the makeup of trace minerals in Availa-Plus?
(Dr. Mike Socha)

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Availa-Plus was designed to be fed as part of the DD Formula, to help reduce digital dermatitis in growing cattle. Availa-Plus contains a combination of Availa®Zn (zinc amino acid complex), Availa®Mn (manganese amino acid complex), Availa®Cu (copper amino acid complex), COPRO® (cobalt glucoheptonate) and potassium iodide. Consult your Zinpro sales representative for feeding rate information.

When is the best time to feed Availa-Plus?
(Dr. Dana Tomlinson)

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Availa-Plus supplementation should begin at least two months prior to the typical onset of DD lesions. Each herd must be evaluated to determine when digital dermatitis begins to occur and start feeding the DD Formula 60 days prior. It is critical to identify the proper feeding rates and supplement Availa-Plus according to the specific body weight guidelines.

What are typical observations after feeding Availa-Plus to heifers?

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After feeding the DD Formula with Availa-Plus for 90 days or more, many heifers that had large, active lesions causing lameness, now have small, inactive lesions in the healing stage. Producers also see additional benefits in improved reproductive performance and overall animal health.

How does feeding Availa-Plus relate to footbath needs?

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In operations where Availa-Plus is being fed as part of the DD Formula, there has been a significant reduction in the need for footbathing heifers, due to a reduction in DD and clinically lame heifers. This reduction in footbathing affords operators a significant cost savings in terms of footbath chemical usage and its environmental impact, as well as time management considerations.