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Farm and cow-level prevalence of bovine digital dermatitis on dairy farms in Taranaki, New Zealand

Authors: Laven R, Chesterton RN, Heuer C, Vink WD, Yang DA
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 65, Issue 5, pp 252-256, Sep 2017
Publisher: Taylor and Francis


AIMS: The aims of this cross-sectional study were to investigate the herd and cow-level prevalence of bovine digital dermatitis (BDD) in dairy farms in the northern Taranaki region of New Zealand, and to identify whether there was any spatial clustering of herds with the disease.

METHODS: A survey of 224 dairy farms in the northern Taranaki region of New Zealand was undertaken from September 2014 to February 2015. Following training in robust criteria to confirm BDD visually, a technician inspected the rear feet of every milking cow on the farms during milking. The identity of cows with lesions and the feet involved were recorded. The proportion of cows affected among the inspected population (cow-level prevalence), the proportion of a herd affected (farm-level prevalence), and proportion of farms with ≥1 cow with lesions, were calculated. A bivariate K function analysis was then used to assess whether farms with ≥1 cow with lesions were clustered, after accounting for the distribution of the farms involved in the study.

RESULTS: Bovine digital dermatitis lesions were observed on 143/224 (63.8 (95% CI=57.5–70.1)%) farms. Within-farm prevalence was 0% on 81 (36.2%) farms, between >0 and <3% on 120 (53.5%) farms, with a maximum prevalence of 12.7% on one farm. Overall, cow-level prevalence was 707/60,455 (1.2 (95% CI=0.9–3.0)%), and on affected farms was 707/41,116 (1.7 (95% CI=1.4–2.1)%). In affected cows, 268/707 (37.9%) had a lesion on left foot only, 262/707 (37.1%) on the right foot only and 177/707 (25.0%) on both feet. The K function analysis showed no evidence of clustering of farms with BDD.

CONCLUSIONS: Bovine digital dermatitis was widespread among the survey farms, but there was no evidence that there was any clustering of herds with BDD. The cow-level prevalence on affected farms was much lower than reported elsewhere.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Although the prevalence at the cow level was low, if these data are representative of other regions of New Zealand, BDD could easily become a major problem on dairy farms in New Zealand, as has been observed in other countries.

KEY WORDS: Bovine digital dermatitis, prevalence, visual observation, dairy farms, Taranaki
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