February Footbath Follies

Erica Sayles | February 10, 2021

Footbaths are one of the most useful tools to combat one of the biggest issues on dairy farms globally- lameness. Unfortunately, footbaths are widely misused, leading to a false sense of security in herds; from inaccurate concentration mixing to infrequent use, footbaths still need a big platform in the herd management area.

So, are you and your team doing it right?

First is a reminder that your footbath is not a treatment- it is a preventative measure to control infectious claw lesions and needs to be used regularly to be effective. With manure scrapers being common in most of our herds, feet are regularly “dipped” in manure from the length of the barn, meaning most of our farms should be doing a minimum of 2 footbaths per week. The dirtier your cow’s feet are, the more often you should be bathing them. An additional step that can be beneficial is running a soap and water bath on non-footbath days to help feet stay clean so that your footbaths can be the most effective.

Properly mixing your product of choice is the most significant step in ensuring the effectiveness of your footbath. By measuring your footbath, you can punch in the dimensions and find the proper concentrations for many standard products using the link below:

Change the contents of the bath!

The next important step is changing the bath contents after the appropriate number of cows passes. That number will depend on the product in use, but most range from 100-300 cow passes. Once you exceed this number, the build-up of manure and loss in volume no longer allows the footbath to be effective on subsequent cow passes.

Finally, whole herd hoof management is not limited to just the cows. Having protocols in place for heifers can be a proactive measure to limit infection. Clean heifer feet with regular inspections and foot bathing when needed will make a world of difference in your barn. Keeping a close eye on dry cow hoof health is also essential. Here is another excellent article covering this in more detail:

We track locomotion score regularity on your farm and will continue to update those numbers to ensure optimal health. If hoof health is currently a concern of yours, or you have more questions about footbath use, please contact a member of the Parion team so we can provide you with the necessary support.