Digital Dermatitis in Dairy Cows: A Review of Risk Factors and Potential Sources of Between-Animal Variation in Susceptibility

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

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Abstract

Digital dermatitis (DD) is a bacterial disease that primarily affects the skin on the heels of cattle. It is a major cause of lameness in dairy cows and a significant problem for the dairy industry in many countries, causing reduced animal welfare and economic loss. A wide range of infection levels has been found on infected farms, prompting investigations into both farm level and animal level risk factors for DD occurrence. There also appears to be individual variation between animals in susceptibility to the disease. The identification of factors affecting individual variation in susceptibility to DD might allow changes in breeding policies or herd management which could be used to reduce DD prevalence. Factors mentioned in the literature as possibly influencing individual variation in susceptibility to DD include physical factors such as hoof conformation and properties of the skin, physiological factors such as the efficacy of the immune response, and behavioural factors such as standing half in cubicles. Further work is required to determine the influence of these factors, identify the genetic basis of variation, clarify the level of heritability of DD susceptibility and to determine how this is correlated with production and health traits currently used in breeding programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-535
Number of pages24
JournalAnimals
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2015

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