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home articles Herd Health |

Wet pastures and foot rot

published: May 15th 2019
by: David Cantrell
source: Oklahoma State Extension


Spring rains have filled the ponds and now the summer grass is ready to start growing vigorously. As the

temperatures heat up, cattle will

start to congregate around or in the ponds or other standing water.

One of the challenges that cattle produc-
ers may face this summer is the occasion-
al lame cow or yearling. “Foot rot” is a
common cause of lameness in beef cattle
on pastures. Foot rot is an infection that
starts between the toes of the infected animal and usually is a result of the introduction of a bacteria through broken skin. The infection causes pain and the resulting lameness. The lameness can cause decreases in weight gain of young cattle, milk production decline of adult cows and lame bulls will be reluctant to breed.

Treatment of foot rot can be successful when the treatment is started early in the disease process. Most cases require the use of systemic antimi- crobial therapy. Your local large animal veterinarian will advise you on recommended antibiotics and dosages for your situation. Severely infected animals that do not respond to initial treatments will need to be reevalu-ated by the veterinarian and more involved treatments may be required to salvage the animal. There are other causes of lameness. Therefore a prop- er diagnosis is important before treatment begins.

Preventative measures revolve around prevention of mechanical damage to the foot. Recently brush-hogged weeds or brush stubble will often be very sharp and cut the skin between the toes allowing the entrance of the infective bacteria. Avoid forcing cattle to spend long periods of time stand- ing in very wet lots or pastures. Utilizing a good mineral program that contains the micro minerals zinc, selenium, and copper will aid in disease prevention. A three year study in Kansas has shown that zinc methionine added to a free choice mineral supplement reduced the incidence of foot rot in steers grazing summer pasture.

Because cattle inflicted with foot rot are commonly treated with antibiotics, it is critical that producers follow their veterinarian’s instructions and label directions precisely. Record the date, the dosage, route of admin- istration, the lot number of the antibiotic given and the person giving the treatment. Then observe the drug withdrawal times completely before marketing the animals that have been treated.

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