With the warmer weather upon us, most people are more than ready for the summer. The wise producer, however, understands that warm weather comes with its share of problem, too. Rhonda McCurry of Beef Magazine addresses one of the most stressful summer concerns, foot rot in livestock.
Foot rot can be attributed to a combination of factors, like weather and soil moisture. The mud and soggy pasture brought on by the wet spring season is usually to blame. Yes, it is true that it cannot be prevented entirely. Even so, the prevalence of this concern can be decreased and also treated, ideally in the early stages.
Robert Callan is a professor of livestock medicine and surgery with Colorado State University. He says that moisture can come in a variety of forms. “If cattle are on pasture and standing in ponds, that moisture can soften tissue between the claws of each foot and make the animal more susceptible to injury,” Dr. Callan adds.
If the animal moves from moist areas to the harder ground and there is trauma on the foot, this could result in abrasions and skin damage to the area. These provide bacteria with an entry point and once the infection has made its way into the skin, the condition can progress in a rapid manner. Dr. Callan says the animal can be extremely lame in as little as one to three days.
He urges ranchers to watch for lameness in the form of symmetrical swelling in the heel bulb area. Animals may have a fever caused by the infection. They may not feed as they used to due to the pain caused by walking to the feeder and back.
Foot rot can be nipped in the bud with the right treatment. There are a number of antibiotics that can address the issue. The condition will usually respond to the antibiotic in three to five days. However, if a rancher does not notice improvement, he or she should have the treatment plan re-evaluated by the veterinarian. Cleaning in between the cow’s toes should be done, as well. This can be achieved by using a hose to spray water in between the front toes.
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Andy Chatterjee • Beef & Swine Recruiting Specialist
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