Teat necrosis in dairy cattle is being reported up and down the country.
When it comes to teat necrosis, the cause, number of cases and its risk factors are all unknown, although anecdotally 20 per cent of heifers are affected in some herds, but there are no known treatments for the disease.
Not being geographically contained as perhaps it was once thought, the condition has been reported in areas of the country as far flung as the Shetland Isles, West Wales and Essex.
As the cause of the disease is currently unknown, research into the condition is required and AHDB Dairy and the University of Liverpool are working together in an attempt to find answers.
Lesions are confined to the skin and do not directly cause mastitis, although the cow may not milk out fully on the affected quarter, increasing the risk of mastitis. Some try to save this quarter for the next lactation.
There is some debate whether the bacteria involved are closely related to that of digital dermatitis, but Hayley Crosby-Durrani, who is focusing her PhD on the condition, says the microbiology and pathology have not been studied.
The lack of microbiological studies is also a stumbling block when it comes to treating the condition, as without being able to identify the relevant bacteria, then it cannot be treated.
As part of her PhD work, Mrs Crosby-Durrani has been visiting farms with reported cases of the disease, taking samples of the lesions, but also the environment, such as the bedding and teatcup liners.
She says: “We are trying to look at the samples and see if there is a common bacteria, fungus or infection between the cases which will then enable us to look to prevent, treat and control the problem.
“Currently, a whole manner of different treatments are being used, and I would say these see a maximum 50 per cent success rate, with some causing no effect at all. Herds seem to only get one or two cases but there is concern it might be infectious.”
If you have a suspected case of teat necrosis please get in touch with Hayley Crosby-Durrani on 07765 456 529, or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates and further information please visit www.liverpool.ac.uk/BovineITN