One of the most common mistakes dairies make with their footbath program is allowing too many passes through the bath before refreshing the footbath solution. A footbath that turns into a slurry of manure cannot clean hooves effectively. In fact, a contaminated footbath can become overwhelmed with bacteria and actually cause more harm than good. As with any management protocol, it’s important to standardize footbath procedures based on what is effective and achievable. The first step is to measure the volume of the bath, then mix your footbath solution to the proper concentration according to label directions. Next, determine how long the solution retains its effectiveness with the number of cows passing through by measuring pH. A clean footbath should have a pH between 2.5 and 4.5. If pH is above 4.5, the footbath is no longer effective and should be changed. Most importantly, monitor the incidence of infectious hoof disease to establish the effectiveness of your hoof health plan, and set protocols accordingly.
Streamlining footbath management for employees
Keep footbath protocols simple and consistent. Set up a workflow that is easy for employees to follow. It’s best to assign footbath maintenance to one shift so it takes place at the same time each day. Continually monitor results so you can spot areas where procedures may be drifting.
As important as footbath management is to help ensure hoof health, let’s not overlook the role genetics can play. Genomic testing can provide you with data to make strategic herd management decisions that can help you better manage hoof challenges and lameness rates. Talk with your veterinarian or Zoetis representative for more information to ensure healthy hooves on your operation.