Investigating foot rot and its microbiological relation to digital dermatitis

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $97,393
Commodity: Beef Cattle
Organization: University of Calgary
Investigator: Karin Orsel

The importance of lameness to beef cattle health and welfare has only recently begun to receive the attention it deserves, as lameness accounts for 30% of all health-related treatments in Alberta feedlots, second only to respiratory disease.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

The importance of lameness to beef cattle health and welfare has only recently begun to receive the attention it deserves, as lameness accounts for 30% of all health-related treatments in Alberta feedlots, second only to respiratory disease. Digital dermatitis (DD) and foot rot in feeder cattle cause large financial losses. Foot rot is the second most common reason for antimicrobial treatment in feedlots, which is why there's an impetus to develop better strategies to control and prevent this condition.

While there is a commercial vaccine available, it confers limited protection. Foot rot has often been regarded as an indication of poor pen management, outbreaks occur in well-managed feedlots, or in combination with DD. A broader health focus on the anaerobic microbiome of these two infectious foot diseases and potential interactions with the environment may provide new knowledge regarding disease ecology and microbiology to inform prevention efforts.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

Evaluations made through this research would assist the industry in optimizing sample collection that can inform a better treatment strategy. The goal is for findings to provide information to animal health companies to develop directed prevention and non-antibiotic treatment options such as vaccines, phage-therapy, and other alternatives.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Knowledge will be transferred in non-scientific publications, conference presentations, poster presentations at national and international events, direct communication with industry, scientific publications, and knowledge transfer through beef extension activities at the UCVM.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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