Two experiments on the effect of routine footbathing in 5 per cent formalin in preventing foot diseases and improving claw horn quality of dairy cows are described. Treatment four times a week significantly (P less than 0.05) reduced the incidence of interdigital lesions but had no significant effect on the incidence of the individual interdigital lesions or on the incidence of individual or overall diseases of the claw horn. A two year study using a divided footbath demonstrated significant improvements in some aspects of claw quality in digits footbathed in formalin. Formalin treated digits had a lower incidence and severity of erosio ungulae (P less than 0.001) a lower moisture content (P less than 0.001) and a reduced severity of haemorrhage of the sole at some sites in the claw compared with untreated digits. Formalin treatment, however, had no significant effect on the incidence of either clinical or subclinical lesions of the claw horn. The improvement in the horn quality of claws treated with formalin for six months did not increase with a further year of treatment.
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