A University of Minnesota field study involving nearly 500 calves on 13 commercial dairy farms in Wisconsin looked at the use of a new navel dip compared to not dipping the navel cord at birth, dipping the cord with a 7 percent tincture of iodine or dipping the cord with solutions containing lower concentrations of iodine (i.e., 0.5 percent to 2 percent).

Study results showed a numeric advantage, but no statistical difference, when comparing the effectiveness of the new navel dip to 7 percent tincture of iodine and 0.5 percent to 2 percent iodine solutions. Here are some of the results:

  • No dip = higher infection. On the two farms that did not previously dip navels, 10.3 percent (Six of 58) calves dipped with the new disinfectant dip developed an infection compared to an infection rate of 28.3 percent (15 of 53) of the control calves (those not navel dipped.)
  • On the seven farms previously using 7 percent tincture of iodine, 10.9 percent (16 of 147) calves dipped with the new disinfectant dip developed an infection compared to an infection rate of 16.4 percent (24 of 146) of the control calves (those dipped with 7 percent tincture of iodine.) The researchers say that despite the numeric difference, the odds of developing a navel infection were not different for calves enrolled in the group treated with the new disinfectant dip compared to calves enrolled in the 7 percent tincture of iodine group.
  • On the four farms previously using a lower concentration of iodine (0.5 percent to 2.0 percent), 6 percent (three of 50) of the calves dipped with the new disinfectant dip developed an infection compared to an infection rate of 14.6 percent (six of 41) of the control calves (those dipped with a lower concentration of iodine.) Again, the researchers say that despite the numeric difference, the odds of developing a navel infection were not different between the two treatment groups.

The new navel dip used in the study was Navel Guard, manufactured by Sirius Chemical Group. Study results were presented at the 2011 American Association of Bovine Practitioners annual conference.

Source: "Efficacy of a New Navel Dip to Prevent Umbilical Infection in Dairy Calves," by Wayne M. Grover, DVM, Groveal Services, Inc., and Sandra Godden, DVM, University of Minnesota, in the Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Sept. 22-24, 2011.