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Objectives: Digital dermatitis (DD) is an infectious claw disease that causes lameness among cows worldwide. Efforts to eradicate DD have been overly focused on treatment and less so on standardized maintance practices, like bandaging, to enhance the effects of treatment. Very few studies have compared the effectiveness of bandaging to nonbandaging. In an attempt to examine the fit of bandaging in the treatment of DD, this study will examine the effect of bandaging on wound size and locomotion among a sample of dairy cows receiving either antibiotic or non-antibiotic treatment.
Materials and Methods: Animals This randomized clinical trial study included (N=162) Holstein Friesian dairy cows, diagnosed with ulcerative DD lesions (M2) upon the first examination (week 0). Cows, ranging from heifers to cows in their 4th lactation, were housed in a stable fitted with cubicles and with concrete flooring. Treatment and Evaluation All hoofs were cleaned and trimmed by a professional hoof trimmer or a veterinarian. The M2 lesions of cows in the first arm of the study (N=85) were sprayed with CTC, a topical treatment containing chlortetracycline (WdT, Garbsen, Germany). Cows were then randomly assigned into either a non-bandaged (N=41, 48%, Group1) or bandaged group (N=44, 52%, Group 2). A topical non-antibiotic gel, containing activated copper and zinc chelate (Intra Hoof-fit gel [IHF], intra Care b.v), was applied to the M2 lesions of cows in the second arm of the study (N=78). Cows were then randomly assigned into either a non-bandaged (N=40, 51%, Group 3) or bandaged group (N=38, 49%, Group 4). The bandaging process was standardized and applied by the same veterinarian for all groups. The process of wound healing was evaluated and scored once weekly (weeks 0, 1, 2, 3, 4) according to a visual inspection scheme described by Döpfer et al., 1997 and Berry et al., 2012. Photographs of lesions were taken and later, under the use of a special software package (Jalomed®), were used to track lesion size across observations. The healthy formed skin (M0) was judged as full recovery. Locomotion was also evaluated and scored once weekly according to Sprecher et al., (1997) locomotion scheme.
Results: For cows treated with CTC, (82%, n=38, Group 2) of bandaged and (44%, n=18, Group 1) of non-bandaged cows were deemed macroscopically healed at week 4. A Survival Analysis concluded that healing was significantly higher for bandaged than non-bandaged cows following topical antibiotic treatment (Z = 4.653, p<0.001, 95% CI: 2.19 to 6.84). Furthermore, bandaged lesions were significantly less likely to transition into M4 lesions, the chronic digital dermatitis (p<0.001). For cows treated with IHF, (73%, n=27, Group 4) of bandaged and (30%, n=12, Group 3) of non-bandaged cows were deemed macroscopically healed at week 4. A Survival Analysis indicated that healing was significantly higher for bandaged than non-bandaged cows following topical non-antibiotic treatment (Z=3.352, p <0.001, 95% CI: 1.627 to 6.403). Moreover, bandaged lesions were significantly less likely to transition into M4 lesions, the chronic digital dermatitis (p<0.001). A Wilcoxon Rank Sums Test indicated that bandaging had no effect on locomotion for either cows treated with CTC (W = 13601, p < 0.27, CI:
-4.58e-05 to 1.77e-05) or IHF (W = 14369, p< 0.332, CI: -4.02e-05 to 5.77e-05). However, wound size was significantly larger for cows with locomotion scores between 3 and 5 than for cows with lower scores for both CTC (W = 8621, p<0.019, 95% CI: -2.08 to -0.03) and IHF treatment groups (W = 8051, p<0.001, 95% CI: -2.53 to -0.68).
Conclusions: Results suggest that bandaging accelerated the healing of DD lesions, regardless of treatment type. Bandaged lesions were significantly less likely to develop into stage M4, the chronic stage of digital dermatitis. Thus, our study indicates that covering DD lesions is advantageous to both the wound healing process and the cow’s wellbeing.