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Foot Rot in Cattle: How Trace Minerals Can Help

Foot Rot in Cattle: How Trace Minerals Can Help

Foot rot in cattle can occur at any age and during any season, particularly in muddy and moist conditions in the spring. Similar to fingernails, hooves are made of keratin and become soft when exposed to excess moisture. This softening of hooves makes them more vulnerable to damage and infection.

What’s the Economic Impact of Foot Rot on Cattle

The economic impact of foot rot can be significant. It can lead to decreased weight gain and milk production in cattle. A study conducted at Oklahoma State University found that affected steers gained 2.3 pounds per day, compared to unaffected steers who gained 2.76 pounds per day. If left untreated, foot rot can worsen and result in the removal of infected cattle from the herd.

Treating and Preventing Foot Rot in Cattle

Treating foot rot involves the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory products, which should be prescribed by a veterinarian. Foot rot in cattle is caused by the bacteria Fusobacterium necrophorum but early detection and treatment can often lead to successful outcomes. It's important to consult with a veterinarian before administering any treatment.

Prevention of foot rot includes implementing best management practices and using preventive tools. Keeping cattle in dry environments or pastures with less standing water is recommended. Additionally, foot baths, mineral supplements containing zinc, and vaccinations can all help reduce the incidence of foot rot in cattle.

How Trace Minerals Can Help Prevent Foot Rot

Don't overlook the role of trace minerals in preventing foot rot in cattle. As confirmed by Oklahoma State University, zinc, an essential micronutrient, is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and hooves. That's why ensuring an adequate supply of dietary zinc is vital to minimize the risk of foot rot and other lameness issues.

A three-year study at Oklahoma State also found that adding zinc methionine to a free-choice mineral supplement reduced the incidence of foot rot and improved daily gain in grazing steers during the early summer.

However, it's crucial to get the balance of zinc right. Dr. Jeff Hill, a senior ruminant nutritionist at Ralco, warns that it's not just the amount of zinc that matters but the ratio of zinc to other trace minerals. Incorrect formulation can have negative consequences, such as disrupting the microbial population in the rumen.

To harness the benefits of trace minerals, it's crucial to source and balance them correctly. This way, the zinc and copper in the mineral supplement can bypass the rumen and break down in the small intestine during digestion, providing optimal benefits like improved hoof integrity. Additionally, a well-nourished immune system will help cows fend off infections associated with foot rot.

Regarding foot health and overall immunity, trace mineral nutrition is key. Give your cattle the support they need for healthier hooves and a stronger defense against foot rot.

To learn more about mineral options that help prevent foot rot, schedule a FREE consultation with a ruminant specialist today by calling 507-337-6916 or emailing


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