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MU Extension explains cattle foot rot, treatments

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“As temperatures increase and cattle dissipate heat by standing in ponds and other water sources, be on the lookout for foot rot,” University of Missouri Extension Livestock Field Specialist Patrick Davis said.  

Davis said foot rot can negatively impact cattle operation performance and profitability.  

“Foot rot is caused by causative bacteria entering the compromised skin or hoof wall integrity,” Davis said.  

Moisture, injury, disease and/or nutrient deficiencies can lead to compromised skin or hoof wall integrity.

“Since trace minerals zinc, selenium and copper are important for skin and hoof wall integrity, deficiencies in these areas can increase the incidence of foot rot,” Davis said.  

Davis urges cattle producers to provide adequate levels of these minerals free choice to their cattle.

“Combination of skin or hoof irritation by rough surfaces and cattle standing in the pond or other muddy areas can increase the incidence of foot rot,” Davis said.  

Davis urges cattle producers to reduce the time cattle are standing on rough surfaces such as rocks, gravel and concrete to reduce the incidence of foot rot.  

Davis said cattle producers should implement heat stress reduction strategies to reduce time cattle are standing in the mud and pond to help reduce the incidence of foot rot.

“Lameness is a typical symptom of cattle foot rot,” Davis said.  

This symptom is brought on by other issues which include swelling and redness of interdigital tissue and adjacent coronary band.  

There will be a foul odor associated with foot rot which is necrotic lesions in the interdigital space. If left untreated, the infection continues with swelling around both digits and the hairline of the hoof causing separation of the claw. 

“Since cattle lameness can influence performance and operation bottom line, it is key to identify and treat foot rot immediately,” Davis said. 

Davis urges cattle producers to consult a veterinarian to develop a plan for understanding the symptoms of foot rot and proper treatment protocol. 

Davis said treatment options should begin with problem identification, cleaning the foot and providing topical antimicrobial treatment. Pain relief might be recommended by the veterinarian.  

Improvement should be seen in three to four days. If not, consult a veterinarian for advice on treatment for more severe cases.

For more information on cattle foot rot, contact a local MU Extension livestock field specialist.

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