27 November 1998

Keep down foot ills

IMPROVE hygiene in cow houses and increase frequency of preventative foot treatments to keep foot ailments at bay this winter.

Penrith-based vet Neil Frame says although ailments such as digital dermatitis arent on the increase, soon every herd will have experienced it. "Many producers now recognise the symptoms and act. Improving housing hygiene is essential."

Gloucester vet Roger Blowey says routine foot treatments must be increased; adding to costs, but preventing foot conditions from escalating. This is partly due to treatments being less effective with American hairy-wart type lesions – which are increasing – compared with common red skin erosions.

Mr Bloweys top three tips for reducing risk of foot problems are; foot-bathing fortnightly; wash heels prior to bathing to increase penetration to the skin; use straw, sawdust and lime to keep beds drier; and scraping out often.

Mr Frame adds poor quality silage will add to nutrition-related foot problems: "Young heifers are particularly at risk. Many have been kept, due to the CPAS, are tightly stocked and house hygiene may lapse. Others may be overfed and suffer from acidosis."