Novartis Animal Vaccines Inc., has developed a four-step protocol to help quantify infectious hoof diseases like hairy heel warts (digital dermatitis) in your herd. Known as SORE, the protocol works like this:

  •   Spray. Use water to spray the back of each cow’s foot as cows finish milking, focusing especially on the rear feet. Aim the spray between and under the bulbs of the hoof to find lesions otherwise hidden from view. Use a flashlight to help find hidden lesions.
  •   Observe. Watch for cows that react to the spray. Cows with lesions will pull up their legs in obvious pain to the water spray.
  • Record. Be sure to record which cows and which feet are affected by heel warts or other foot lesions.
  •   Evaluate. Determine the prevalence of heel warts in your herd and set up an action plan. You need to take corrective hoof management action if this evaluation reveals heel warts in 10 percent or more of your cows. Get even more aggressive if more than 20 percent of cows are affected.