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Comparison of effects of routine topical treatments in the milking parlor on digital dermatitis lesions

Jacobs, C., Orsel, K., Mason, S., Barkema, H.W.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.6 pp. 5255-5266
animal welfare, cleaning, dairy cattle, dermatitis, farms, feet, hoof trimming, lactation, lameness, milk production, milking parlors, probability, tetracycline
Digital dermatitis (DD), an infectious bacterial disease affecting the feet of dairy cattle, can cause lameness and decrease milk production, fertility, and animal welfare. Current DD treatment typically involves routine hoof trimming and topical antibiotics. Several nonantibiotic commercial topical products are used for controlling DD lesions; however, there is limited or no evidence regarding their effectiveness. The objectives of this study were to evaluate 2 commercially available topical applications on their ability to (1) clinically cure active DD lesions to nonactive lesions and (2) prevent recurrence of active DD lesions. Ten farms were visited weekly. In the milking parlor, the hind feet of lactating cattle were cleaned and scored (M-stage scoring system). Cattle with DD lesions at the first visit were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 treatment groups: positive control (tetracycline solution), HealMax (AgroChem Inc., Saratoga Springs, NY), HoofSol (Diamond Hoof Care Ltd., Intracare BV, Veghel, the Netherlands), and a negative control (saline). All products were applied to lesions using a spray bottle. Tetracycline, HealMax, and HoofSol had a higher probability of clinical cure for active lesions compared with saline 1 wk after the first treatment (wk 1), with 69, 52, and 79% clinical cure of active lesions, respectively, compared with 34% with saline. At wk 7, the probability of clinical cure for active lesions was 10, 33, 31, and 45% of lesions treated weekly with saline, tetracycline, HealMax, and HoofSol, respectively (no difference among treatments). The substantial clinical cure with saline highlighted the potential importance of cleaning feet. In wk 1, treatment with saline, tetracycline, HealMax, and HoofSol resulted in a probability of recurrence of active DD lesions of 9, 11, 11, and 8%, respectively, with no product being superior to saline. After 7 wk, the probability of recurrence of active lesions was 5, 7, 6, and 6% for saline, tetracycline, HealMax, and HoofSol respectively, with no difference among groups in wk 7. These results provide alternatives to antibiotics for treatment of DD lesions and highlight the potential importance of cleaning feet in the milking parlor.