Zinpro Corporation recently introduced Availa®Plus in Europe, providing dairy and beef producers throughout the region with a research-proven, nutritional solution to foot health management, the company said in a news release. Multiple studies have shown that feeding Availa-Plus helps provide protection against digital dermatitis (DD), a common infectious foot disease, when fed as part of a well-fortified diet and according to specific feeding recommendations, the release said.

“Research has shown that the combination of essential trace minerals found in Availa-Plus are effective at helping decrease the incidence of DD in cattle, when fed according to specific feeding recommendations,” Arturo Gomez, Ph.D., DVM, dairy veterinarian – Europe, Zinpro Corporation, said. “Improving trace mineral nutrition within a well-fortified diet has been shown to help cattle build stronger skin integrity and a more empowered immune system.”

Digital dermatitis can cause painful lesions that often lead to lameness in dairy and beef cattle, and the impact of lameness on animal performance is costly and wide-reaching. Most notably, decreased milk production and poor reproductive performance are observed in dairy cattle. When Availa-Plus is fed according to specific feeding recommendations to growing dairy heifers or beef cattle, research has shown these animals are better able to resist digital dermatitis and, therefore, are not as likely to contract it later in life, the release said. In addition, research has shown growing dairy heifers exhibit improved feed efficiency during rearing and increased milk production after calving.

The bacteria that are thought to cause DD have the ability to penetrate deeply into the skin, so building a more resilient barrier against the bacteria is key to disease prevention. The formulation of Availa-Plus available in Europe contains a unique combination of zinc, manganese and copper (from Zinpro Performance Minerals®), as well as iodine.

Many dairy operations in Europe and the U.S. have no protocol for managing DD in heifers and little awareness of the need to begin managing DD in their replacement stock, Dr. Gomez said.

“Both heifer care and cow care are crucial in managing DD on a dairy. In particular, research has shown that a greater emphasis on improving heifer nutrition, hygiene management and avoiding new DD infections can greatly improve animal performance and decrease susceptibility to DD later in life,” he saaid.