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What footbath color says about its effectiveness

October 13, 2015
POSTED BY: Jessica Light | DVM | MA | Senior Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

One of the biggest challenges with footbaths is keeping them clean. Color can be a good indicator about the effectiveness of your footbath. A clean, copper-based footbath solution should be blue-green in color, but not brown. If the color is off, then the pH is likely not within the optimal range to be effective.

How do you know your footbath is clean and effective?
Follow these basic, but necessary, management steps to keep a clean footbath

  • Check the pH of your footbath with pH strips.
    • A clean footbath should have a pH between 1.5 and 4.5.
    • If pH is above 4.5, the footbath is no longer effective and should be changed
  • Keep track of the number of cows per clean footbath.
    • The number of cows that pass through the footbath indicate when it is time to change the bath. The industry guideline is about 300 cow passes per footbath.
    • Calculate the number of cow passes per bath by multiplying the volume of the bath by 7.5.*
    • Depending on organic load and environmental conditions, running footbaths efficiently can increase the number of cow passes per footbath.
  • Monitor leg and hoof hygiene within the herd.
    • Manure on legs means a dirtier footbath.
    • Provide clean, dry bedding for your cows to help keep their hooves clean.

Why is lowering the pH of footbath water important?
Some products, such as HOOF-TEC™ 1000 Footbath Concentrate, safely lower the pH of the water, ionizing copper, and allowing more available copper in your footbath. This, in turn, creates a more efficient footbath.

Work with your veterinarian to create a good hoof care program that includes a well-managed footbath on your operation. Your veterinarian can provide the best knowledge and has access to leading industry resources such as Lameness in Dairy and Beef Herds, the latest AABP guidelines on lameness in beef and dairy herds.

*Based on the HOOF-TEC Complete® poster.


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