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A randomized clinical trial of topical treatments for mild and severe udder cleft dermatitis in Dutch dairy cows

van Werven, T., Wilmink, J., Sietsma, S., van den Broek, J., Nielen, M.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.9 pp. 8259-8268
dairy cows, dairy farming, data analysis, dermatitis, etiology, herds, parity (reproduction), photographs, randomized clinical trials, skin lesions, udders
Udder cleft dermatitis (UCD) is a skin lesion in dairy cows affecting the anterior parts of the udder, with the lesions often needing a long time to heal. The lesions can be characterized as mild or severe. The etiology of UCD is not fully understood and studies on the effectiveness of topical treatments have not been published. The objective of this study, therefore, was to conduct a randomized clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of 2 different topical treatments, one for mild and one for severe UCD lesions, compared with untreated control groups. The treatment and control groups were randomized within herd for mild and severe UCD. The treatments were applied for a maximum period of 12 wk on 8 Dutch dairy farms. Mild UCD lesions were treated once a d 3 times a week on fixed days with a non-sting barrier film. Severe UCD lesions were first stratified into class A (lesion length <5 cm) or class B (lesion length ≥5 cm) and then randomly allocated to treatment or control groups within herd. Both severe lesion classes were treated once per day every day with an enzyme alginogel. Every week, the lesions of affected animals were inspected and photographed by the investigator. These photographs were reviewed weekly by an external wound expert who classified the lesions as mild, severe class A, severe class B, or healed. Based on this classification, the investigator judged weekly whether the lesions had improved compared with their classification of the previous week. For mild UCD lesions, improvement was defined as occurring when lesions were healed. For severe UCD lesions, improvement was defined as a transition from class B to class A, transition from any severe UCD lesion (class A or B) to a mild UCD lesion, or when the lesion was defined as healed. Data were analyzed using a discrete time survival analysis with time to first improvement as dependent variable. In total, data from 214 animals were analyzed to estimate the effectiveness of treatment. Results showed that treatment of mild UCD lesions had no influence on improvement compared with untreated lesions. Treated severe lesions, however, showed 3.4 times more improvement compared with the untreated controls. Improvement varied between herds, and cows with a parity of 5 or higher showed significantly less improvement than first parity animals. Early identification of severe UCD lesions followed by prompt treatment with an enzyme alginogel supports the healing process.