Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

6 tips for managing your footbath this winter

Jeff DeFrain Published on 31 December 2015
dairy cow footbath

Many herds enter the cooler fall and winter months with existing claw lesions that formed during the summer weather.

This is when accurate hoof health records really prove their worth by providing a profile of seasonal trends and peak times for infectious pressure specific to your herd.



During cold temperatures, producers typically face three primary challenges with managing footbaths:

  1. Slippery or rigid walking surfaces

  2. Slushy or iced-over footbath solution

  3. Deactivation of footbath chemicals

Following are tips for addressing some of these common cold-weather issues:

  • Some chemicals are susceptible to reduced efficacy at lower ambient temperatures. Therefore, remember to store footbath chemicals in a warm location (above 45º F).

  • Install floor heat in the region just before, under and after the footbath to keep the area from freezing. Consider placing insulation just under the concrete, followed by the electric floor heat pads or heat lines in the concrete. This allows you to turn on the system and the heat comes up to the surface in a short period of time.

  • Pre-charge the footbath with warm water to warm the floor and bath surfaces. Using warm water will also improve chemical solubility and reduced potential for freezing of the bath.

  • Using a 10-inch step-in height helps keep the solution in the footbath.

  • Installing plastic or non-porous side walls (sloped from 3 feet above the floor to the upper edge of the bath) will help reduce splashing of the treatment solution and increase footbath efficacy.

  • Ensure footbath design includes the ability for cows to bypass the footbath; that way when the footbath solution is frozen during cold temperatures, cows are not exposed to it.  PD

PHOTO: Freezing temperatures can present challenges to footbaths, like deactivating chemicals. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

Jeffrey DeFrain
  • Jeffrey DeFrain

  • Research Nutritionist
  • Zinpro Corporation
  • Email Jeffrey DeFrain