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Effect of a prewash on footbath contamination: a randomised control trial
  1. A. D. Manning, BVetMed MRCVS,
  2. S. A. Mahendran, BVMedSci BVM BVS (hons) MRCVS,
  3. B. S. Hurst, BVetMed MRCVS,
  4. T. L. Blackmore, BSocSci, MSocSci PhD and
  5. N. J. Bell, MA VetMB PhD PG cert Vet. Ed. FHEA DipECAWBM(AWSEL) MRCVS
  1. The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL97TA, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: amanning{at}

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FOOTBATHS have proven effective in controlling conditions such as digital dermatitis (Bell and others 2014). Yet, there is still relatively little published data on appropriate footbathing protocols, including use of a prewash.

The term ‘prewash’ is used to describe a footbath that is positioned before the treatment bath in order to reduce contamination (e.g. manure, dirt and debris) entering it (Blowey 2015) as organic matter contamination can inactivate chemicals commonly used (Holzhauer and others 2004, Hartshorn and others 2013). Some authors suggest that prewashes reduce contamination in the treatment bath by either washing cows' feet or stimulating cows to defecate in the prewash rather than in the treatment bath (van Amstel and Shearer 2006, Greenough 2007, Watson 2007). By reducing contamination, it is theorised that a prewash will extend the life of the treatment bath (van Amstel and Shearer 2006, Greenough 2007, Offer and others 2006) and enable better access of the treatment chemical to foot tissues, thereby increasing treatment efficacy (Watson 2007). Other authors hypothesise that a prewash is not effective at cleaning cows’ feet, and therefore makes no difference to the amount of contamination in the treatment bath (Cook 2011). It has also been suggested that a prewash may dilute the treatment chemical, thereby reducing treatment efficacy (Toussaint Raven 1989, Cook 2011) and possibly stimulates defecation, although this may be linked to the novelty or fear induced if a prewash is used infrequently (Villettaz Robichaud and others 2013).

The objective of this study was to determine whether a prewash reduces contamination in the treatment bath by …

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