Risk factors for digital dermatitis in free-stall-housed, Canadian dairy cattle

Source: National Library of Medicine


  • 1Department of Production Animal Health Faculty of Veterinary Medicine University of Calgary Calgary Canada.
  • 2Adaptation Physiology Group Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences Wageningen University & Research Wageningen The Netherlands.


Background: A comprehensive analysis of the relation between digital dermatitis (DD) and cow and herd characteristics in Canadian dairies is currently lacking.

Methods: A multilevel logistic regression analysis was performed using 12,260 cow records from 62 dairy farms to assess association between 27 cow and herd-level variables, and presence of DD.

Results: The odds for a cow to have at least 1 DD lesion were higher in first-parity cows and those in later lactation (≥45 days in milk). Housing cows on a concrete base was associated with higher odds (OR 2.24) for DD when bedding was added once a week or less. Bedding the concrete base more frequently reduced odds for DD. Wood shavings or other bedding types were more positively associated with DD (OR 2.31 and 1.87, respectively) compared to sawdust. Also, the odds of DD were lower on farms with a scraping manure frequency of every 2 h compared to less frequent scraping (OR 0.54).

Conclusion: Nine risk factors for DD were identified and quantified, with stall base, bedding type, and manure scraping frequency associated with lower odds of DD. DD prevalence could be reduced by implementing management practices for first-parity cows, as they had higher odds of DD.