July 9, 2015


Better control of digital dermatitis emphasised during Zinpro-hosted programme  




Zinpro Corporation recently hosted a First Step® Academy training programme near Düsseldorf, Germany, to promote better understanding about digital dermatitis (DD) in Europe as well as sharing effective strategies to manage this common infectious foot disease in dairy herds.


The programme occurred at Haus Düsse, an agricultural training center, where Andreas Pelzer, the center's dairy department head, presented an overview on heifer housing in Germany.


Industry experts from Europe and the US provided recommendations and facilitated training workshops focused on detecting, preventing and treating DD.


During his presentation, Pelzer indicated a greater emphasis on heifer management in order to reduce the incidence of DD. Andrea Fiedler, a German veterinarian, also cautioned against a tendency towards overreliance on footbathing as a prevention technique.


According to Arturo Gomez, a dairy veterinarian with Zinpro (Europe), dairy operations in Europe and the US have no protocol for bringing in new heifers and little awareness about the importance of managing DD in young stock.


"Both heifer care and cow care are crucial to managing DD on a dairy cattle," said Gomez. "In particular, research has shown that a bigger emphasis on improving heifer nutrition and hygiene management can greatly improve animal performance and decrease susceptibility to DD later in life."


Digital dermatitis often leads to lameness, which decreases milk production and fertility rates in dairy cattle. The condition develops from multiple risk factors linked to a weakened skin barrier. Improved mineral nutrition can bolster the skin's integrity and fortify its function as a barrier against the disease, said Christoph Mülling, professor of veterinary anatomy from the University of Leipzig, Germany.


He added that improper footbathing practices will not decrease the incidence of DD but, instead, damage the skin and impair its barrier function.


Throughout the event, many speakers highlighted the practice of applying a multi-pronged approach to DD management, including footbathing, hoof trimming and topical treatments, in addition to improving hygiene, housing and nutritional practices.


Participants in the First Step Academy programme received training on effective footbath design, location and management. They also received instructions on the DD Check App, a new Zinpro resource that helps dairy producers to identify, record and predict DD.

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