In this series, we have explained in detail how correct functional trimming can prevent mechanical lameness. The previous article was devoted to the most common form of bacterial lameness in dairy operations, namely digital dermatitis (DD). This can be successfully treated by a professional hoof trimmer, but the emphasis must be on herd prevention.
When correctly designed, located, and built, foot baths are the most practical way of preventing DD and treating M1 lesions (refer to The Dairy Mail May 2021). A foot bath needs to be located close to the dairy where there is a constant flow of cows, thereby simplifying management. It is important to have a concrete slab in front of and behind the foot bath, to keep the feet clean and to operate the foot bath as economically as possible.
Many people make the mistake of not taking the angle of the foot bath into account. If the foot bath is not level, more water and, ultimately, more solution is required. The cow’s entire foot, and in some cases even the dew claws, needs to be in the solution. Another common mistake is to build the foot bath below ground level, which makes it difficult to clean; furthermore all the manure and dirty water around the dairy tend to flow into the bath. When it is built above ground, you only need to install a plastic outlet to clean the foot bath within seconds.
Foot Bath Race
A foot bath needs to be installed in its own race (drukgang). If it has its own side rails and a swing gate in front of it, you can guide all the cows through the bath and when it becomes too dirty, you can close the gate and let the cows pass. In the meantime, cleaning can be done, fresh solution can be mixed, and the next group of cows can be guided through the bath.
The width of the foot bath should be such that only one cow can pass through it at a time. One of the most important properties of a foot bath is that it must be long enough. Tests have shown that the more steps a cow takes in the bath, the more effective the treatment is, and the weaker the solution required. This single important aspect has a big economic impact.
It is advisable to add side walls that prevent the cows from seeing beyond the foot bath. This results in a cleaner bath and the need to use less solution. I deliberately did not give dimensions, but rather explained the importance of certain aspects. However, a complete foot bath plan can be requested from the DairySmid office or website.
Guest Writer & Consultant to DairySmid: Jaco de Bruin