Farmalin® defends foot health and milk yield on Welsh dairy farm

Date: 19/10/16

Farmalin® defends foot health and milk yield on Welsh dairy farm

A foot-bath disinfectant which offers an alternative to formaldehyde and copper sulphate is visibly improving lameness in a high yielding Welsh dairy herd.

Foot-bathing is a cornerstone to maintaining foot health in the 300-cow Holstein Friesian herd at Manor Avon Farm, Llandeilo, but issues associated with the use of formaldehyde affected the frequency of this routine. Simon Davies, who farms the 420-acre holding in partnership with his father, Evan, and son, Ben, says the solution was operator-unfriendly and only kept diseases like digital dermatitis at bay, instead of tackling them directly. “The staff were complaining of headaches and nausea so we footbathed less often than was needed which meant we never really got on top of foot health,’’ he recalls. “There always seemed to be an underlying issue with digital dermatitis, particularly in the winter.’’ The turning point came when Simon was introduced to Farmalin® Intense and Farmalin® Maintenance, a two-step aldehyde free liquid concentrate for treating foot infections and maintaining healthy hooves in cattle and sheep.

The product, manufactured by Kilco, has transformed foot health at Manoravon. “We have only been using it for two weeks but we can actually see it working,  just glancing at the cows I can see they are more mobile,’’ Simon reports. “We use Farmalin® Intense for five days to draw out the pus from the infection and then switch to Farmalin® Maintenance to maintain the health of the foot. The early signs are extremely encouraging.’’ And the product has a pleasant smell and is easy to use, he adds. “It has a very subtle medical smell. It is straightforward to mix, just 5% product to 95% water.’’

The herd at Manoravon Farm has an average annual milk yield of 8,750 litres at 4.1% butterfat and 3.4% protein. The replacement rate currently runs at 22% but Simon is confident he can reduce this with his improved footcare routine. And more mobile cows will mean more milk in the tank. “One of the golden rules of dairying is protect cows’ feet, if a cow isn’t mobile you can’t expect her to produce milk. Feet is one area that you can actually quantify the cost to your business. When we have a cow with digital dermatitis we know she will produce 10% less milk.’’

Digital dermatitis is a highly contagious, erosive infection usually affecting the skin on the bulbs of the heel. Foot-bathing has a key role to play in preventing its spread, making the foot tissue more resistant to pathogens and reducing bacteria challenge. The Farmalin® Footbath range has been developed using Kilco’s IONAS™ footbath technology designed to work with the animal’s normal barrier function. It is effective and consistent at a walkthrough pace even with soiling and is completely safe for the stockman to handle.

Dr Martin Garland, technical director at Kilco, who developed Farmalin®, said the company’s research had pointed to the need for a two-step system. “Our studies have shown that most farmers use a formaldehyde based solution in their footbath and the majority add copper sulphate when lameness incidences are higher. "Research tells us that formaldehyde is an ineffective disinfectant for short contact foot bathing. Additionally, it is highly toxic and is a known carcinogenic. We also know that copper sulphate does not break down well in the environment and even a slight increase in copper levels on the pasture can have harmful effects on the cattle. "By using this two-step programme farmers can effectively manage infectious causes of lameness within the herd with minimal risk to staff or the environment.’’

At Manoravon Farm, the cows walk through a pre-wash foot bath after exiting the 20:40 herringbone parlour and then step into the Farmalin® solution. Simon says he has been so pleased with the improvements in foot health since he introduced Farmalin® into the foot care system at Manoravon that he will continue to use it as part of his routine.

For more information about how Farmalin can improve hoof health in your herd speak to your local Kilco representative or contact us on 01576 205480.

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