Foot Rot in Cattle

Foot Rot in Cattle
Barry Whitworth, DVM

With all the rain that continues to fall in most of the state and the weather service predicting above normal chance for precipitation over the next few months, producers need to watch cattle closely for any signs of lameness. Lameness is the first sign of foot rot. With moist conditions, foot rot may become a problem.

Foot rot is caused by Fusobacterium necrophorum subspecies necrophorum and sometimes two other bacteria are involved (Porphyromonas levii and Prevotella intermedia). These bacteria are normal inhabitants of the digestive tract of cattle and consequently in the environment.

The problem arises when the bacteria gain entry into the tissues of the foot through a break in the skin. The damage to the skin may be from puncture wounds or abrasions or continuous exposure to wet conditions which softens the skin. Once the bacteria gains entry into tissues, it multiplies and releases toxins that damage tissue. If left unchecked, the bacteria invades deeper structures in the foot. This may result in permanent problems and may shorten the life of the cow.

For more information on foot rot, pick up the May issue of OKFR!