Archive Article: 2001/07/27

27 July 2001

Digital dermatitis hits organic units

Diseases such as digital dermatitis are proving particularly hard to treat on organic farms, which can reduce fertility, Somerset-based vet Alastair Hayton told the BCVA meeting.

"Digital dermatitis is the biggest problem on organic farms because only zinc or copper sulphate can treat it. While these are better than nothing, they are not as good as antibiotics used to treat conventional herds."

Antibiotics could be used if permission from the organic regulatory bodies was obtained, but long withdrawal periods could put producers off, said Mr Hayton.

"The three-strikes-and-out policy – which means that when one animal is treated with a synthesised drug more than three times it is no longer organic – also acts as a disincentive to antibiotic use.

"I know of organic farms which have fertility problems because digital dermatitis is so bad that cows are not prepared to stand."

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