Dr. Döpfer says her team has an interest in alternative methods to prevent and control digital dermatitis, so it began an experimental model to evaluate the potential effectiveness of this nutritional solution to provide protection against this highly prevalent and costly disease.
According to Dr. Döpfer, research results indicated significant differences between pre-calving dairy heifers fed the DD Premix Formula with Availa-Plus and heifers fed the control diet. "There are essentially two periods during the development of the disease when it can be prevented and controlled immediately. It must either be prevented before it infects an animal or during the early stages of lesion development." She notes that treating digital dermatitis without recurrence of lesions is extremely difficult once the disease progresses and reaches the chronic stage.
Footbaths and topical antibiotics are used widely to prevent and treat digital dermatitis; however, each of these treatments comes with its own set of challenges. Additional measures for controlling digital dermatitis in cattle include combating risk factors by implementing good hygiene, sound biosecurity practices, and understanding whether animals suffer chronically from the disease or only on a single occasion.
The concept of feeding a diet fortified with a unique combination of highly available trace minerals in the effort of helping manage the prevalence of digital dermatitis lesions is interesting for numerous reasons.
Dr. Döpfer emphasizes that it is especially important to get a heifer off to a healthy start, free of digital dermatitis, through an integrated prevention and control strategy. "A heifer that enters her first lactation free of the disease is more likely to be a productive member of the herd longer than one that enters first lactation infected with this disease," she stresses.
For more information about Availa-Plus and the DD Premix Formula, please visit www.zinpro.com/availa-plus or contact your local Zinpro representative.