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April 2014 Archive for Dairy Today Healthline

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Dairy Today Healthline

Spring Moisture Provokes Unwanted Footrot

Apr 21, 2014

What to watch for in a common bacterial infection that can cripple performance in dairy cows.

Moore, Mike

By Dr. Mike Moore, professional services veterinarian, Novartis Animal Health

April showers may bring May flowers, but spring rain and melting snow can also bring an uninvited, crippling consequence for many dairy producers—the onset of footrot.

Footrot is a year-round threat, but the disease peaks in spring and fall when moist conditions prevail. The bacteria that cause footrot tend to thrive in conditions that are prevalent on many dairies, including damp concrete floors in freestall barns and milking parlors, and wet or muddy alleys.

When cattle walk on rough, frozen ground or muddy surfaces that have dried and hardened into uneven terrain, the skin tissue between the claws is more likely to be bruised or torn. With an abrasion, the possibility of bacteria entering increases; however, an abrasion is not required for the infection to enter the system. Simple bruising provides opportunity for the bacteria to proliferate and cause infection.

Early Diagnosis Critical to Treatment

Dairy producers should carefully watch for initial signs of footrot since early diagnosis and treatment is crucial for the best response. Lameness in either front or back feet often signals the possibility of footrot, and can be followed by reddening of the interdigital space, swelling of the foot or the often characteristic foul odor. If lameness is observed, dairymen should lift the foot and inspect for lesions, puncture wounds or abscesses. Footrot is sometimes confused with hairy heel warts which appear on the back of the heel bulb, but footrot will surface between the claws.

Footrot Prevention is Sound Management

Once footrot strikes a herd, it can be difficult to control but actions can be taken to reduce the risk. A preventative vaccine for footrot is a cost-effective option to reduce the incidence of footrot. Cattle older than six months of age can be vaccinated to prevent infection by Fusobacterium necrophorum, a bacterial organism that causes footrot. Cows should be revaccinated three weeks later to boost results.

F. necrophorum is commonly found in the digestive tract of cows, creating a risk for diet-related footrot. Dairy cattle that are fed a hot, high-concentrate ration can get ruminal acidosis which erodes the rumen wall, providing opportunity for the bacteria to flourish. A nutritionist can help you balance your herd’s diet and add vitamins and minerals to help prevent footrot.

Maintaining a clean, dry environment along with low-stress handling procedures are also sound management tactics to avoid jeopardizing the integrity of the hoof. Techniques such as manure management, providing good drainage around water tanks and avoiding overcrowding can curtail the risk of footrot proliferation. If you have known issues with footrot, it’s wise to set up medicated foot baths to wash the feet of animals when entering or leaving a barn. Preventing the contagious disease saves time, money and labor rather than waiting to treat footrot.

Economic losses from treating footrot start at $90 per case1 but can be much more. Losses can be seen in decreased milk production, dry matter intake, reproductive efficiency, body weight and longevity.1

Footrot prevention shouldn’t be saved for a rainy day. Take time to talk to your veterinarian to discuss a sound footrot protocol for your operation. Click here for more information about footrot and scroll to the "Learn More" section.

1 Ishler V, et al. Prevention and Control of Foot Problems in Dairy Cows. Pennsylvania State University. Available at: http://www.extension.org/pages/11201/prevention-and-control-of-foot-problems-in-dairy-cows#.UyHiLz9dWAg. Accessed March 13, 2014.

Stay Ahead of BRD this Spring

Apr 14, 2014

Tips to avoid this single biggest killer of newly weaned calves.

Source: Merck Animal Health

Don’t let weather fluctuations get the best of your calves. Abrupt springtime temperature swings can weaken immune systems and leave calves at risk for bovine respiratory disease (BRD). And it’s nothing to ignore.

SheltonBRDCalfHutch Med

BRD is the single biggest killer of newly weaned calves.1 Lung damage is irreversible and has long-term negative effects on growth, reproductive performance and milk production. 2

Tom Shelton, DVM, senior technical services manager for Merck Animal Health, notes that respiratory problems often occur in month-old calves while they are still in hutches and again at weaning when they move into group housing and are under social stress.

"Weather changes during these high-risk periods can exasperate respiratory problems," says Shelton. "Vaccination can help, but there is no set vaccination program that will work on every dairy."

Shelton encourages producers to work with their veterinarian to determine what pathogens are causing respiratory problems. "Pathogens are constantly evolving and new disease challenges emerging," he explains. "Diagnostic work is the only way to know what to include in a vaccination program and determine the best vaccination timing."

Many pathogens contribute to BRD. Viral pathogens can include parainfluenza, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV). Common bacterial pathogens are Pasteurella multocida, Mannheimia haemolytica, Haemophilus somnus and Mycoplasma.

Once pathogens of concern are determined, the vaccine selection process can begin. When it comes to calves and respiratory disease, Dr. Shelton encourages the use of intranasal vaccine for three reasons:

(1) rapid onset of immunity;
(2) reduced concerns of maternal antibody interference; and
(3) the vaccines are easy on calves compared to those given under the skin.

Intranasal vaccines go to work directly in the nose and upper respiratory tracts to provide protection at the point of attack against BRD pathogens. "The majority of infections with disease-causing organisms, like Pasteurella and IBR, begin in the nose," Shelton says. "Administering a vaccine directly into the nasal cavity means the calf can develop a quicker immune response. The vaccine stimulates local protection, preventing disease organisms from attaching and replicating."

With intranasal products, there is also less concern about maternal antibody interference because the vaccine stimulates mucosal immunity – there is no systemic reaction, which occurs when product is administered under the skin.

Shelton adds that intranasal products are usually easier on the calf. "There is less inflammation because of the nasal administration route and that often leads to improved calf performance," he says.

The goal of vaccination is to stimulate the calf’s immune system to ensure adequate protection against BRD prior to the time of disease challenge. However, preventing BRD involves much more than vaccination.

"Vaccination will never replace good management," says Shelton, who offers these health management tips:

• Antibody protection begins at birth. Feed 1 gallon of colostrum within two hours of birth and a second gallon 12 hours later.

• Provide calves with clean, dry bedding and adequate shelter with good air quality.

• Monitor calves and watch for any cause of stress to enable a smoother transition into group housing.

• Train employees to identify and treat BRD at first signs of pneumonia.

1. NAHMS Dairy 2007 Part I: Reference of Dairy Cattle Health and Management Practices in the United States, October 2007. Available at: http://www.aphis.usda. Accessed January 2014.
2. Stanton, A.L., D.F. Kelton, S.J. LeBlanc, J. Wormuth and K.E. Leslie. 2012. The effect of respiratory disease and a preventative antibiotic treatment on growth, survival, age at first calving, and milk production of dairy heifers. J Dairy Sci. 95(9):4950-4960.


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