Foul-in-the-foot is an infection found between the digits. It affects the tissues under the skin in this area, causing severe pain, swelling of the foot and marked lameness. Foul is the most common cause of lameness in young stock and fattening units, in dairy herds it is can be common in young heifers that have recently been introduced to the herd, but it can occur in any age and be found throughout the year in both housed and grazing cows.
Foul is caused by bacteria which are normal components of the cow's environment. The bacteria invade through sites of injury and inflamed skin. Thus an environment which aids the damage or softening of the interdigital skin increases the spread of the disease. Such adverse environments can range from dry hard ground to wet muddy areas around gates and troughs.
The bacteria associated with foul-in-the-foot are widespread in the environment and eradication is therefore impossible. The aim of prevention must therefore be to reduce foul-in-the-foot to a minimum
1) Improve walkways and tracks. A good walkway need only be one cow wide
2) Fill-in muddy and stony areas around troughs and gateways
3) In housing, ensure no pooling of slurry. Scrape efficiently and at least twice a day.
4) Keep cattle feet as clean as possible
5) Copper sulphate or formalin foot-baths may help if there is significant problem but as your vet for advice before you start footbathing for foul.
NADIS hopes that you have found the information in the article useful. Now test your knowledge by enrolling and trying the quiz. You will receive an animal health certificate for this subject if you attain the required standard.