Digital Dermatitis

Digital -Dermititis _2017-12-20

Example Scenario:
Farmer A has a 100-cow dairy herd, milking twice daily in a herringbone parlour.

The farmer has noticed many cows are lame following housing. His foot-trimmer has found that six of the 20 cows trimmed that day had acute digital dermatitis lesions.

Keen to control the disease, Farmer A discusses options to control the apparent outbreak of digital dermatitis with his vet.

Example treatment options

Option 1 – Inappropriate use
All cows are walked through a monthly antibiotic footbath. This is off license, requiring a minimum 7 day milk and 28 day meat withdrawal, and equates to 28mg/PCU of antibiotic that will usually end up in the slurry store.

Option 2 – Improved approach
All cows are screened in the parlour using a mirror and any with active digital dermatitis are separated and spot treated with antibiotic spray for three days.

This targeted treatment approach uses a negligible quantity of antibiotic and is within the licensing rules, no milk withhold is necessary.

Option 3 – Best practice
In addition to option 2, a preventive non-antibiotic foot bathing regime is introduced, leaking water troughs are repaired and hygiene is improved.

This approach uses a negligible quantity of antibiotic in the short term, and also reduces the number of new cases. Long term antibiotic use will decline and animal health will improve.

Visit to find out more about antibiotics and UK farming, and access facts, statistics, science and reports. The website also contains best practice case studies and inspiration for farmers who want to work with their vets to ensure they are using antibiotics responsibly.