Effect of a tea tree oil and organic acid footbath solution on digital dermatitis in dairy cows

By Bewley, J. M. and McQuerry, K. J. and Smith, A. C. and Wood, C. L., Journal of Dairy Science, 2014
Copper sulfate is the industry gold standard footbath ingredient for controlling dairy cow digital dermatitis. However, when used footbath solutions are deposited on soil, high levels of copper in the soil may result, which can have toxic and negative effects on plant growth. An alternative to copper sulfate is Provita Hoofsure Endurance (Provita Eurotech Ltd., Omagh, UK), which is a biodegradable solution containing organic acids, tea tree oil, and wetting agents. The objective of this study was to quantify changes in digital dermatitis frequency when using Provita Hoofsure Endurance and copper sulfate in a split footbath in 3 commercial dairy herds. This study was conducted from January 5, 2012, to March 19, 2012, in 3 commercial Kentucky dairies with 120, 170, and 200 milking Holstein cows. None of the herds was using a footbath for digital dermatitis control before the study. Footbath solutions were delivered using a split footbath. During the study, a 3% Hoofsure Endurance solution for the left hooves and a 5% copper sulfate solution for the right hooves was used. Digital dermatitis was scored every 3 wk using the M0 to M4 system, where M0 = a claw free of signs of digital dermatitis; M1 = a lesion <2 cm that is not painful; M2 = the ulcerative stage, with lesion diameter of >2 cm, and painful to the touch; M3 = the healing stage and covered by a scab; and M4 = the chronic stage and characterized by dyskeratosis or proliferation of the surface that is generally not painful. McNemar’s test statistic suggested that a statistically significant difference existed in the proportions of M1 and M2 lesions between the beginning and end of the study for both treatments. This indicates that each solution was effective in decreasing the proportion of M1 or M2 lesions from baseline to the last time point. A chi-square test calculated using PROC FREQUENCY of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) indicated that no statistically significant relationship existed between the treatments among changes in digital dermatitis frequency from the baseline to the end of the study. Performance of the 2 footbath solutions was comparable throughout the study. No significant differences were observed between the copper sulfate and Provita Hoofsure Endurance.
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