Optimising Livestock Health with Footbath & Hoof Care Strategies

Establishing an Effective Footbath Programme

The objective of any hoof care footbath program is to prevent established hoof infections such as digital dermatitis or foul of the foot, wash off surface slurry from the feet, and kill surface bacteria, hardening both the skin around the hoof and the hooves themselves. Too often, though, we see dairy farmers introduce a footbath routine only after an outbreak of digital dermatitis has occurred. We are being reactive and not proactive.

Preventive Footbath Strategies

The effectiveness of any footbath product, such as copper sulfate or Healmax, will be determined by the footbath program in which it is placed, by the dimensions, and by the volume of the footbath. In an ideal situation, the hoof care footbath will be 310 cm long (10.0ft) and 60 cm wide (2.0ft). When this bath is filled to a depth of 12.5 cm (5 inches), the bath will hold 230 litres of water. You must establish and understand how much water your footbath holds to maximise both its effectiveness and cost.

Digital Dermatitis Management

The addition of any footbath product has a cost associated with its use, and secondly, the footbath needs to be 3.1 meters long to ensure a > 95.0% probability of the hind feet being immersed twice. A minimum step-in height of 10 inches (25cm) is another effective way of increasing hind leg immersions. Make your cows step up into the footbath. The opposite is also true as countersunk footbaths mean the cows will step well into the bath, and you will significantly reduce hind leg immersions.

Application Guidelines

For effective results, the solution depth in the Footbath should be maintained at a minimum of 12.5cm (5 inches), and depending on the type of product used in the footbath and the cleanliness of the cow’s hooves and hind legs, the footbath solution should be changed between every 200 to 300 cow passes.

Formalin Safety and Effectiveness

In recommending any footbath product, it’s certainly not a case of one cap fits all. Formalin (38% formaldehyde) at a 5% inclusion in the footbath (5L per 100L of water) is very effective at killing bacteria and hardening the claw. It tends to remain effective for up to 200 cow passes and is relatively inexpensive and can be used between 2 and 5 days per week. However, the product is known not to be as effective once temperatures drop below 10 degrees, and extreme care needs to be taken in handling and using the product, especially in confined spaces, as it is a suspected carcinogen.

Copper Sulphate Utilisation in Footbaths

Copper sulfate is regularly used in footbaths as it has both antibacterial and hoof-hardening properties. It’s effective when used at a minimum of 5% inclusion (5 kg per 100L of water) and can be used between 2 and 3 days per week. The downside is that copper sulfate dissolves poorly in water and is quickly neutralised by manure, so dirty cows and a dirty footbath will reduce its effectiveness.

Zinc Antibacterial Solutions for Hoof Care

Zinc sulfate has antibacterial and hoof-hardening properties similar to copper sulfate and is another option to consider. It is effective but must be used at a minimum of 10% in a footbath as it dissolves very poorly in water.

Cleaning Agents Footbath Solution Composition

Parlour washings such as Hypochlorite, Peracetic acid, and salt probably fall more into the category of cleaning agents. They tend to loosen the manure on the cow’s feet and allow oxygen to the affected area. They should be used in conjunction with other footbath solutions in a sequence of one cleaning type bath to every 3 or 4 prevention type baths.

Healmax Techniques for Hoof Hardening

Healmax footbath solution from DP Hoofcare is also a very effective footbath solution. When used at a 2% inclusion (2L per 100L), it is chemically safe and is not temperature-dependent.

➡️ Expert Product Recommendation: Our DP Auto Bath, a special footbath for cows priced at €6,800, is easy to use and has a built-in system that washes cows’ hooves quickly. Perfect for farms with fewer than 300 cows, it’s 3 meters long. 

Key Takeaways

  • Regular hoof care prevents hoof infections and maintains overall livestock health.
  • The effectiveness of hoof care products depends on the footbath program and dimensions.
  • Different products like formalin, copper sulphate, and zinc sulphate have varying effectiveness and usage considerations.

DP Hoof Care offers top-quality hoof care solutions for livestock. 

Alongside footbaths, DP Hoof Care offers top-notch hoof care products. From Healmax paste to trimming knives, we have everything you need to keep your cows’ hooves healthy. Our expert advice and support ensure your animals stay happy and healthy. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *