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'The best thing is seeing cows walking pain free'.

A MAJOR cause of lameness in cattle is being successfully tackled at a Wrexham dairy farm.

Field trials of a "blitz" approach to digital dermatitis (DD) saw a 70% reduction in cases at Hinwil House Farm, near Holt.

The new treatment protocol is giving hope that the highly contagious hoof condition can been finally tackled on farms where control efforts have previously been futile.

Caused by Treponeme bacteria, DD has been affecting the majority of UK dairy herds since 1987.

As the condition is spread by slurry, it tends to be more prevalent in housed herds in wet conditions.

Tom Wright, a vet with a special interest in lameness at Lambert Leonard and May (LLM), said identifying the disease is difficult as infection often sets in long before the clinical signs become apparent.

"This means that we are often only treating the tip of the iceberg, whilst leaving animals untreated that are "brewing" the disease," he said.

LLM, a farm-only practice which opened a new base on Wrexham Industrial Estate at the start of 2018, decided to trial the blitz control plan at Hinwil House.

The approach is essentially a combination of routine procedures, including topical treatment, footbathing and foot trimming.

In isolation they have limited impact but, when used together, they rapidly lower bacteria levels.

The key is to prevent cows coming into contact with slurry where possible.

Tom said: "Treponeme bacteria can probably only survive for up to 24 hours in slurry. Therefore, to stem infection spread, it's essential that surface bacteria levels are rapidly lowered.

"This requires good environment management, where walkways and lying areas are completely clear from slurry to allow topical treatments to have maximum effect."

At Hinwil House, farmer Hadyn Williams was impressed - and surprised - by the outcome.

" I was a bit sceptical whether it would work," he admitted.

"However I have been very pleased with the results. We have seen 70% improvement at least in the amount of digital dermatitis in our herd."

Working together, Mr Williams, his foot trimmer and the LLM VetTech team built a treatment routine around the farm set up.

This was accompanied by individual treatment plans for each cow after the main blitz phase.

Mr Williams said: "New cases are now dealt with using topical antibiotic use, along with regular footbathing and intermittent foot trimming to keep on top of any new lesions.

"The best thing is seeing the worst case cows walking pain free and clear of digital dermatitis.

"It has taken a lot of management but my herd is now much better for it."

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Jan 18, 2018
Words:428
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