Digital dermatitis, or hairy foot wart, is a major cause of lameness in cows worldwide. The most commonly used diagnostic test is foot inspection in a trimming chute, but this is a labor-intensive procedure.

Researchers in France recently conducted a study to determine if there’s a better way to identify cows early and treat lesions before they become serious problems. The study was published in the November Journal of Dairy Science, and assessed the performance of an inexpensive and simple scoring method based on a swiveling mirror and a powerful headlamp that can be used in the milking parlor to score digital dermatitis.

After examining 242 Holstein cows on four farms, the researchers found that they could detect and score digital dermatitis lesions using a simplified scoring system with both accuracy and good agreement within and between observers. They say the system could be used by farmers and  researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of digital dermatitis control measures.