Introduction Digital dermatitis (DD) is a painful disease currently considered to be the leading cause of infectious lameness in dairy cattle. However, little is known about the application and effectiveness of management strategies under commercial conditions. In practice, treatment is left to farmers’ discretion, guided by their perception of the disease and their attitude towards its control. Method A telephone survey of 90 farmers who reported DD was carried out to establish how they perceived, detected, treated and prevented the disease. The survey was used to capture farmers’ actual practices rather than eliciting their opinion on an ideal management approach. The percentage of farmers responding to each question was calculated and farmer views were analysed using discourse analysis. Results Despite lameness (49%), reduced milk yield (37%) and pain (34%) being commonly reported implications of DD, only 10% of farmers described the disease as a ‘major’ problem. Fifty two percent of farmers described detecting lesions at an early stage of disease progression; however 42% of farmers reported not using the one topical antibiotic treatment licensed for DD. Despite equivocal research evidence for its efficacy, parenteral antibiotic treatment was common, with 51% of farmers reporting its use. While 41% of farmers perceived slurry removal as the most important control measure, 11% reported “a lack of knowledge and treatment solutions for DD”. Conclusion Farmers used a wide variety of strategies while attempting to reduce the prevalence of DD; however few farmers perceived the disease as a major problem. This under-perceived importance of DD and the multitude of control approaches are causes for concern. Longitudinal on-farm intervention studies are urgently required to inform best practice.
|Translated title of the contribution||Farmers' Management Strategies for Digital Dermatitis Control in England and Wales|
|Title of host publication||Cattle Lameness Conference, 13th April 2011, Sutton Bonnington, Nottingham, UK|
|Publication status||Published - 12 Apr 2011|