Herd- and Cow-Level Prevalence of Digital Dermatitis in The Netherlands and Associated Risk Factors

M. Holzhauer, C. Hardenberg, C.J.M. Bartels, K. Frankena

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125 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this cross-sectional study was to reevaluate the prevalence of digital dermatitis (DD) and associated risk factors in The Netherlands. Between May 2002 and December 2003, information about the presence or absence of DD lesions and other claw disorders on the hind claws of dairy cows in The Netherlands was collected by 20 hoof trimmers during trimming of all dairy cows in 383 herds. A questionnaire was used to acquire information regarding management and housing. Additional information, such as parity, breed, and stage of lactation of the cows, was provided by the Dutch Herd Book Organization. Digital dermatitis was present in 21.2% (SE = 0.3) of the study population (n = 22,454 cows). The herd prevalence varied from 0% (9.1% of the herds) to 83.0%. Most common was herd prevalence between 5 and 10%. The Holstein-Friesian breed was at higher risk for DD [odds ratio (OR) = 1.7] than was the Meuse Rhine IJssel breed (dual purpose breed). The risk for DD decreased with increasing parity. Cows at the peak of their lactation (30 to 60 d in milk) and in the third parity had higher odds for DD in comparison with cows that were later than 60 DIM. The presence of other claw disorders, such as interdigital dermatitis/heel horn erosion (IDHE), interdigital hyperplasia (HYP), and interdigital phlegmon, appeared to be predisposing for DD. Based on estimation of the population-attributable fraction, it was concluded that if IDHE, HYP, and interdigital phlegmon were not present among the study population, respectively, 32.2, 9.0, and 1.1% of the DD cases could have been prevented. The risk for DD slightly decreased when cows affected by IDHE had access to pasture. Because of the interrelation between infectious claw disorders, an effective intervention strategy against DD should focus on an integrated approach to the control of all infectious claw diseases. Cows trimmed >12 mo before the study (during regular trimming of the entire herd) were at lower risk for DD than were cows that were trimmed at shorter intervals. Animals that had >8 h of access to pasture were at higher risk for DD (OR = 1.6) compared with no access to pasture. Finally, cows in small-sized herds (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-588
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • dairy-cattle
  • risk-factors
  • interdigital dermatitis
  • cubicle houses
  • lameness
  • lesions
  • infections
  • disorders
  • erosion
  • farm

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