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Lameness is a serious health problem for cattle. One of the most common causes is foot rot, which occurs when the skin between the toes is injured or irritated and subsequently infected. The primary pathogen is Fusobacterium necrophorum, a common anaerobic bacteria. The infection can be aggravated by other common bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Foot rot kills the tissue between the toes and results in swelling or erosions that may cause the toes to spread apart.
It is important to minimize the possibility of abrasion from rough surfaces, gravel, and hardened or frozen mud. Standing in water or mud for long periods can also create problems. Keeping pen surfaces as dry and smooth as possible can minimize injuries and reduce the chance of foot rot. Mineral deficiencies can reduce skin integrity and cases of foot rot seem to be more prevalent when zinc, selenium and copper are deficient.