Many times clients ask about treatment for Fescue foot, but after several questions and upon physical exams, they are asking for a treatment for the wrong problem. There are major differences between Fescue toxicosis and foot rot.
In Fescue foot, the symptoms will be unusual soreness, more prominent in the hind limbs than the front. The infected animal will show signs of weight loss, decrease in milk production, poor conception rates and may also loose the switch in their tail or have necrotic ears. The soreness is due to poor circulation caused by the endophyte found in Fescue. This is a non-contagious disease, and is more of a management problem. One must remove the affected animal from endophyte infested Fescue.
• There are some types of nutritional supplements that will aid in the prevention of Fescue toxicity.
• Foot Rot can be a contagious disease that may affect any foot. It’s common to see this disease in beef and dairy cattle; especially those animals kept in wetlands and muddy lots.
• Foot Rot is caused by a bacteria fusobacterium necrophorum or bacteroides melaninogenicus.
The clinical signs for foot rot are lameness, which will get more noticeable as the disease progresses. The foot will swell and the space between the hoof will have a foul odor due to the dying tissue between the hoof, the area will swell causing the claws of the hoof to spread apart. In advanced cases of foot rot, when the foot is examined large pieces of necrotic tissue will be noted from the front of the interdigital space to the back of the hoof.
Since this is a disease caused by bacteria, the antibiotics penicillin or oxytetracycline work well, for its treatment. Sometimes, the affected areas must be cleaned up and all the dead tissue removed, and the area is packed with an antibiotic wrap. Your veterinarian is best to help diagnose this disease because, sole bruising, lacerations, foreign body (nails and wire), joint infection and broken digits can have some of the same symptoms.
Prevention of Foot Rot is a result of management, as well as some vaccines that are useful. When possible keep lots well drained, and animals out of ponds but, this is not always practical. I recommend vaccination, especially during all my breeding soundness exams for bulls. Your local vet will be the best source for the vaccine since the market changes so much in what we have to offer. In the past, nutritional supplements like organic iodide have been helpful, but it is restricted in food animals today due to the U.S. Food and Drug compliance.
See your local veterinarian for what works best in your area. Remember if the diagnosis is not correct, you only spend more time treating an advancing disease. Stop it as soon as possible.
Dr. Rusty Waide, DVM has been the owner of Buffalo Veterinary Clinic for 21 years.