The bacteria responsible for causing digital dermatitis (DD) has been present on hoof knifes used on cattle and sheep, according to scientists at the University of Liverpool.

A research team, led by Nicholas Evans and Stuart Carter in collaboration with vet Roger Blowey, looked to discover whether DD Treponeme can be present on trimming equipment by testing tools used on cattle and sheep with the condition, both before and after they were disinfected.
DD was found to be present on 97% of cattle blades and 100% of sheep blades after trimming – figures that reduced to 29% and 46% respectively after disinfection.
Dr Evans said: “It has long been considered that digital dermatitis was spread in slurry – which we have some evidence for and are continuing to investigate – but now, for the first time, we have discovered the digital dermatitis bugs in the farm environment.”
He said the high detection rate of digital dermatitis bacteria on trimming blades suggested this may be “a significant and worrying route for the transmission of this infectious condition”.
Leigh Sullivan, who conducted the field work as part of her study, said: “Interestingly, in the world of human dentistry, a completely different species of the bacteria is found to cause gum disease. Furthermore, studies have shown it will adhere to metal on orthodontic braces which is consistent with our detection of the digital dermatitis Treponeme on metallic trimming knives.”
DairyCo R&D manager Jenny Gibbons said: “This DairyCo and EBLEX-funded study could help farmers, vets and hoof trimmers to understand more about the transmission of digital dermatitis between cows and farms. A logical precaution to limit the spread is to disinfect hoof trimming equipment between animals and between farms.”
  • To find out more about this and other R&D projects, DairyCo will host a research day on July 17 at Trenault Farm, Launceston, Cornwall. To book a place, visit
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