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Now's the time to watch for cattle foot problems

Summer is the key time to keep an eye out for outbreaks of digital dermatitis, says Jo Speed, DairyCo senior technical extension officer.

"Digital dermatitis lies dormant in the deep tissue of the foot, even when there isn't an active lesion, and in times of herd stress or pressure, individual animals or the whole herd may have an outbreak of dermatitis.

"Identifying the types of lesions present on your farm can aid in a prevention strategy relevant to you. Damage on the sole causing bruising or sole ulcers can be traced back to trauma on the sole of the foot two to three months previously, so thinking about gateways and cow track management is critical to prevent problems.

"Key to prevention is biosecurity, while regular foot-bathing of the whole herd can be the route for control. It's worth assessing foot-bath location and considering continued use through the grazed period to aid control.

She continues: "Managing cow tracks will also aid in minimising problems caused by trauma from stones, improve cow flow and help manage run-off if a 3-6% camber is maintained."

The DairyCo Cow Tracks booklet contains all the dimensions and considerations when planning cow tracks or maintenance, while working with your vet or foot trimmer through the DairyCo Healthy Feet Programme.

For more information, visit DairyCo at the Healthy Feet demonstration area in hall six at the Livestock Event on 2 and 3 July, at the NEC, Birmingham.

Richard Allison, FarmersWeekly

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