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Effectiveness of different regimens of a collective topical treatment using a solution of copper and zinc chelates in the cure of digital dermatitis in dairy farms under field conditions

Relun, A., Lehebel, A., Bareille, N., Guatteo, R.
Journal of dairy science 2012 v.95 no.7 pp. 3722-3735
chelates, control methods, copper, dairy cows, dairy farming, dermatitis, ethics, farm management, farmers, farming systems, farms, feet, field experimentation, grazing, hygiene, lactation, milking, models, oxytetracycline, probability, risk factors, spraying, zinc
A controlled field trial was conducted to evaluate in dairy cattle the benefit provided by different regimens of a collective topical treatment using a solution of copper and zinc chelates to cure digital dermatitis (DD) compared with individual treatment alone, and further to investigate factors that could explain variations in the clinical cure of DD lesions over 6mo. The study was conducted between November 2009 and October 2010 and involved 4,677 dairy cows from 52 French dairy farms on which DD was endemic. The farms were quasi-randomly allocated to 1 of 4 treatment regimens for 6mo: no collective treatment (control), walk-through footbath during 4 consecutive milkings every 4 wk (FB/4W) or every 2 wk (FB/2W) and collective spraying during 2 milkings every 2 wk (CS/2W). For ethical and welfare reasons, all farmers also had to treat all detected active DD lesions with individual topical spraying of oxytetracycline. Digital dermatitis and leg hygiene were scored on all lactating cows during milking 7 times every 4 wk by 14 trained investigators. During these farm visits, data related to farm management were also collected. The curative effectiveness of collective treatments was assessed through a Cox survival frailty model as the probability of cure of an active DD lesion during at least 2 consecutive visits. The model was adjusted for farm and cow risk factors as well as initial DD prevalence. Monthly DD cure rates were 58, 55, 76, and 76% in the control, FB/4W, FB/2W, and CS/2W regimens, respectively. The spontaneous monthly cure rate for untreated active DD lesions was 61%. Hazard of cure of DD was increased by 1.28 and 1.41 when walk-through footbath and collective spraying, respectively, were applied over 2 d every 2 wk compared with the control regimen. Applying a walk-through footbath 2 d every 4 wk was not sufficient to improve the cure of DD compared with individual treatments alone. Three main factors were identified as speeding DD healing: cleanliness of the feet, initial small size of the DD lesion, and additional individual topical treatment. Grazing tended to speed DD healing. These results highlight the need of combining several control measures, including individual and collective topical treatments, and improving foot hygiene and the early detection of DD lesions to ensure a high cure rate and rapid curing of digital dermatitis on endemically affected farms.