As a hoof trimmer, I often get the question about how to treat strawberry foot in cattle, so I’ve decided to write a post with some successful tips.

Treatment of severe cases of strawberry foot we’ve tackled with a wrap or bandage on the hoof to ensure a longer contact time. At the same time, we will use hoof-spraying methods or foot baths to take care of the entire pen or herd.

Strawberry foot is a severe problem, and many options are being suggested for treatments. I have put helpful facts below to provide clarity on the best approach for your herd.

Wrapping the hoof for fastest and proven results

Although the wrapping of a foot is perceived as a lot of work, as a hoof trimmer, I have not come across any other successful way to treat a strawberry foot (also called digital dermatitis or hairy wart). The Intra Hoof-fit Gel is currently the only antibiotic-free medicine available in Canada, and its efficacy is backed by scientific research. Health Canada has approved this OTC (over-the-counter) drug with a DIN and there are no applicable withdrawals for meat and milk. I would like to share some results of the various research that proves that wrapping with the Intra Hoof-fit Gel is your best option.

Table 1: Overall cure rate on day 28 of M2 BDD lesions treated for the overall herds. Curative effect of topical treatment of digital dermatitis with a gel containing activated copper and zinc chelate. In this study, “cure” was defined as the transition of an M2 type lesion to an M0, M1, M3 or M4 type lesion. Source: Holzhauer, Bartels, van Barneveld, Vulders & Lam, 2011.
Product Number of cows treated Number of cows cured Cure rate
Intra Hoof-fit Gel
DIN 02441284
94 86 92%
CTC spray (chlortetracycline)
Veterinary prescription required
88 51 58%

Table 2: A randomized controlled trial of 50 M2 Digital Dermatitis lesions with a non-antibiotic gel containing chelated copper and zinc. In this study, “cure” was defined as the transition of an M2 type lesion to an M0, M1, M3 or M4 type lesion. All scoring and treatment of digital dermatitis were performed by Emil Sabau DVM, who is an independent investigator. Source: Lammers, Sabau, van Berkel, Vis, van der Vegt & Vulders, 2015.
Product: Intra Hoof-fit Gel (DIN 02441284) Number of cows treated Number of cows cured on D7 Number of cows cured on D10 Cure rate
25 lesions were treated with Intra Hoof-fit Gel 25 25 25 100%
25 lesions were used as untreated controls 25 0 0 0%

The practical challenge for a large dairy farm or feedlot operator is that there are limited resources available to treat lameness with the wrapping of the individual hooves. I can just imagine having hundreds or thousands of cows on the farm. Daily sorting of lame cows for wrapping becomes a nearly impossible chore. The approach for handling lameness in these larger herds seems to be more practical by using blanket treatment methods like the spraying of the hooves or the use of footbaths. I would still recommend using the proven and successful approach by putting a wrap on the bad ones.

Use hoof spraying as a valuable tool

In my Southern Alberta neighbourhood, I spoke with a few feedlot operators and their veterinarians, to find an effective way to battle and prevent the strawberry foot “pandemic.” Traditionally, we used foot baths and even medication in the rations, but both of these methods seemed not to hit the target for success. Spraying the hooves with a disinfection product and after that with the Intra Hoof-Sol Spray, seems to be the combination that achieves success. The spraying method has the following benefits:

  • Fresh product on the right spot on every single hoof.
  • Focused approach and you can see what you are doing.
  • No dumping of unused product – less waste and more $ savings.

We did a case study on a few farms where they ran a preventative spraying session only once a week. The result? We were able to significantly reduce the level of hoof problems within eight weeks.

The ready-to-use Intra Hoof Sol Spray is registered in Canada as a VHP (Veterinary Health Product – NN.U5D5) to maintain, support, and promote healthy hooves and dermis.

hoof spray

Prevention and treatment protocols are being tested on some farms to find the golden path of action. Finding the optimum and practical flow for the cattle, and the success of applications are going to be a happy balance. We are looking forward to additional feedlots and dairy farms who would like to provide feedback or would like to participate in testing new protocols – just drop us a message if you are interested.

Is prevention with foot baths an option?

Foot baths have been around for many years in all kinds of shapes and forms. Some success appears to have been booked in the past. However, it seems that this success is currently trending in the downward direction. I’ve put some factors for a failing foot bath method in the table below and compared it to the spraying method.

Table 3: Observations on practical applications by Diamond Hoof Care Ltd. *Research on the effect of foot bath protocols is done by the Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary.
Observation Spraying Method Foot Bath Method
Fresh and Clean product for every hoof – even cow #200 x
Avoid the dumping of unused product in the environment x
Saving on labour to set up and cleanout x
Focused on the hooves while applying products (monitor progress) x
Winter conditions have an impact on these management efforts
Concentrations are often not right (correct water vs product)
Proven success backed by independent research*

The foot bath method appears to be easier because you can prepare the solution before-hand and continue with your work, for example milking cows or processing cattle. This does not apply to the spraying method – you will need an extra guy to spray the hooves. It really comes down to the bang for the buck and your farm’s setup.  If you want different results than what you’re getting, you have to try different approaches.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein

Don’t Abandon Ship too fast – test and measure

As with everything in life, it’s best to create an action plan. Ask yourself the following questions to make decisions that will work for you:

  • Is there a safe and logical/practical way to lift up the bad hooves and apply a wrap? If so, how and where can I set up a chute?
  • How can I spray all back hooves of my cattle – this can be in the milking robot, the milking parlour, dry cow & young stock barns? How can I put my pen of cattle through the tub and set up a spraying system?
  • How big is my foot bath and what concentration would I have to put in to make it a possible success? After how many cows will I need to change the solution? For our feedlot operators: will the floors around the foot bath be too slippery in the winter months and what effect has the weather on a drenched foot in -30°C weather? Or is it economically feasible to build a heated barn for foot baths or spraying?

Test and measure success – look for proven and safe products that will help you gain control of the hoof health of your cattle.

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