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4-minute read

Control Digital Dermatitis in Beef and Dairy with the DD Check App

Dairy producer using the DD Check App
Dr. Daryl Kleinschmit

Lead Researcher – Dairy
Zinpro Corporation

Digital dermatitis, often referred to as hairy heel warts, is a common infectious foot disease in dairy and beef cattle. It is one of the leading causes of lameness in dairy cattle in the United States, with prevalence rates as high as 80%. It often decreases milk production, performance and fertility in dairy cattle.

In beef cattle, lameness can account for 70% of all sales of non-performing cattle. Digital dermatitis has a significant impact on average daily gain and final weight in feedlot cattle.

Read More: Breaking the Cycle of Digital Dermatitis

Each case of digital dermatitis can cost dairy producers approximately $150 to $200 per case in the form of treatment costs and lost production. Feedlot cattle with digital dermatitis may also have approximately 20 less pounds of live weight and eight to 21 pounds less hot carcass weight at harvest. So early detection is vital.

Identify, Record and Predict Digital Dermatitis Outbreaks

The DD Check App from Zinpro is a data collection tool that can help dairy and beef producers assess whether or not they have a digital dermatitis challenge on their operation and help determine a plan of action. If you have a high level of digital dermatitis, you may need to examine your operation’s hygiene, footbath protocol and biosecurity measures.

The app comes with three main functions:

Identify

Accurate identification of each lesion stage is critical to understanding your herd’s disease status. Images and descriptions of lesion stages help beef and dairy producers know what to look for when observing their cattle’s feet and how each stage should be recorded.

Record

Beef and dairy producers can use the app to quickly record the presence of lesions in the various stages of development for each animal. After recording the lesions, the DD Check App can create a list of animals in need of a follow-up based on their history and prognosis for treatment.

Predict Outbreaks

Users can access the DD Infection Model to initiate an automated statistical prediction of potential DD outbreaks. Once the disease status is known, immediate action can be taken through an integrated prevention and control strategy.

Take Action to Control Digital Dermatitis

If you identify a digital dermatitis challenge, or the DD Check App reveals an outbreak is imminent, you have options to control the spread of digital dermatitis in your operation:

  • Feed performance trace minerals: Availa®Plus, as part of the DD formula, has been proven to reduce the incidence of digital dermatitis by about 45% in controlled studies. The DD formula works internally to enhance the animal’s health and make cattle less susceptible to the bacteria that cause digital dermatitis. 
  • Check your footbath protocol: The most common problems beef and dairy producers run into with their footbath protocol is that the footbath is not long enough. Check to ensure the footbath is 10-12 feet in length to make sure the feet are being cleaned thoroughly. Also, make sure they are going through the footbath often enough and that the water and chemicals are being changed frequently enough.
  • Check your hygiene: Dirty animals and pens provide a perfect environment for the bacteria that cause digital dermatitis to thrive. Improving your operation’s hygiene could require changes to your footbath frequency or the frequency at which you’re scraping pens.
  • Biosecurity: Digital dermatitis can be brought into your operation from the outside. For example, you could have a situation where you have an outbreak of digital dermatitis in the lactating herd despite good hygiene and an adequate footbath protocol. It could be because the heifers coming in from another farm or facility had digital dermatitis and are bringing it into your operation. You may need to implement or alter your biosecurity protocols accordingly.
  • Hoof trimming: While hoof trimming itself doesn’t necessarily play a direct role, routine hoof trimming provides an opportunity to inspect cows, identify active lesions and provide treatment for digital dermatitis. Active lesions in the M2 stage, identified as painful, bright-red ulcers, can spread to other animals in your herd, so the longer you ignore them, the tougher they will be to treat.

Keeping Records is Critical for Controlling Digital Dermatitis

Keeping records of digital dermatitis lesions in your herd can help you identify key areas and key times of year you can expect an outbreak to occur. This can help you be proactive in your management strategies and treat cattle early before digital dermatitis spreads. Keeping records can also help you see the results of any changes you have made, such as changing the frequency of your footbath or changing the chemicals you are using.

The DD Check App is free to download on the Apple Store. For more information about how the app can help you control digital dermatitis on your beef or dairy operation, contact your Zinpro representative today.

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