In few words: It is working
Posted in the Magazine "Kvæg", September 2019. Image and photo by Claus Solhøj.
When Gjorslev Manor started using HooFoss (formerly known as Stalosan Hoof) in January 2017, the cow herd was in a situation well known for many dairy farmers: Approx. 30 % of the cows had hoof problems, even though many different products and solutions had been tried. At the same time Gjorslev Manor has problems finding a hoof care product that did not cause harm to the workers.
HooFoss was recommended by the Danish veterinarian hoof specialist Nynne Capion.
Increased focus on Digital dermatitis (DD) with the use of activity sensors, early treatments of lame cows and regular hoof trimming was not enough to control the disease.
The mechanism of action for HooFoss is completely different compared to other hoof products. Simplified, HooFoss is not a disinfectant, but instead a protective mineral based patch that covers sensitive skin and wounds. At the same time HooFoss is a powerful drying agent with a low pH that counteracts tissue damaging high moisture and ammonia levels in the hoof environment. Moreover, HooFoss does not require prewash of the hooves, in fact this can reduce the efficacy of the product.
The infection risk will always be present
The effect of HooFoss did not fail. Gjorslev went from approx. 30 % affected cows to 3-5 %. A one-year trial where sand was replaced with dry manure in the cow cubicles raised the level to 5-7%. After returning to sand the level went down again. Today, more than 2 ½ years after starting with regular HooFoss treatments, the level is 2,3%.
"It can be said in few words: It is working. And the best part is that we do not die using HooFoss, in contrast to many other hoof products.", says Christian Petersen, farm manager at Gjorslev Manor. It is the sum of activities against hoof problems, wherein HooFoss plays a major role, that maintains a low level. Hoof infections will always be a threat in free stall barns, where Treponema bacteria has perfect conditions of life. It is the constant effort that keeps the level down. "HooFoss is the only way, we can keep the problem low, and we will always have to use the this or similar products with the same high efficacy. At our farm HooFoss is fully integrated in the daily routines, just like dipping teats", Christian Pedersen explains. He is quite involved in breeding programs but does not believe that it is possible to minimise digital dermatitis through genetics. "The problem with digital dermatitis is highly influenced by good farm management", he emphasises.
We can control it
The weekly spraying of all rear hooves on lactating cows is done with a normal pressure sprayer during milking in the rotary by the person who is disinfecting the teat. The pressure sprayer is also used every second week when treating the heifer and dry cows standing in headlocks. The heifers are treated from 10 months of age. Christian Petersen estimates that it takes 20 minutes to treat all heifers and dry cows. Digital dermatitis was becoming a problem with the heifers, even though they kept in boxes with deep litter.
A combination of observations from staff and activity detectors on the rear legs register early lameness and other abnormal activities, and here problem cows get a hoof trim just after the first milking. "Putting it simple, we have to get rid of all the chronic cows. With this setup, we can control the chronic cows and start an early treatment that prevents pain and lameness. We never see first time calving cows with digital dermatitis, and we never lose cows because of the disease", he says.
As mentioned, HooFoss can be sprayed, used in hoof bath or hoof mat. The product is ready to use. The general recommendation is to start spraying milking cows, dry cows and heifers twice per week for at least a month, to achieve an optimal effect. After this, the spraying can be continued, or the application can be switched to hoof bath or hoof mat. The level of hoof problems will decrease steady over a period of several months. Therefore, it is recommended to treat with HooFoss for at least six months, before proper evaluation of the effect of the product.
The spray method is recommended in the first month, because the risk of wrong use is low with this method. Also, the cost of spraying is lower compared to the hoof bath and mat. According to the producer, it is possible to reduce hoof problems below 5% after a longer period of continues use of HooFoss.