As the winter weather begins mellowing and we think about spring, it's also time to remember Lieutenant Dan's rule from Forrest Gump: "One, Take Care of your feet!"
DON'T IGNORE THE FIRST CLINICAL SIGNS OF FOOT ROT: swelling and lameness in one or more feet. Research by Michigan State University shows that lame cows are 3 times more likely than their non-lame herdmates to exceed the herd average for days to first service; 16 times more likely to exceed the herd average for days open; 16 times more likely to exceed the herd average for days in the breeding herd than non-lame cows; 9 times more likely to exceed the herd average for services per pregnancy; and eight times more likely to be culled. And, while cattle are more susceptible to foot rot in wet, muddy conditions of late winter and early spring, any time of year can produce a high incidence of foot rot. Prevention strategies that can drastically reduce the prevalence of foot rot and monetary losses associated with the disease keeping facilities/environment clean, avoid over populating and vaccinating against foot rot. Producers considering vaccinating for foot rot are advised to talk to their veterinarian about vaccination protocols, best management practices and nutritional support to reduce the herd's susceptibility.
Reprinted with permission from Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, www.pdpw.org