Bovine Digital Dermatitis (BDD) is a painful infectious foot condition causing lameness in dairy cattle. It is highly prevalent across Europe and the United States. While it's likely that the disease is present in New Zealand (there have been a number of reports, e.g. Vermunt and Hill, 2004), much of this information is anecdotal or remains unverified, and there is currently no reliable information on how widespread or (un)common it may be.

Over the duration of 2011, a number of cases originating from different locationsin New Zealand were reported to, and investigated by, the Ministry for Primary Industry's Investigation and Diagnostic Centre (Van Andel et al., 2012; see image on the right). This provides increasingly strong evidence to suggest that the disease is present in New Zealand, and there are indications that its incidence may be increasing.

Although the cases that have been reported tend to be sporadic, and the disease is currently not considered to be a clinical problem, increasing attention is being paid to the disease. The potentially rising trend of disease occurrence is of concern when considered within the context of developments within New Zealand's dairy industry. Fundamental changes are occurring in our management and husbandry, including greater stocking densities, provision of confined housing or feed pads for dairy cows, increased use of supplementary and concentrate feeds, etc. Such developments are likely to continue into the future. This drive towards higher productivity is leading to dairy management systems which are increasingly comparable to those in Europe and the US. The historic precedents indicate that epidemic spread precedes establishment of the disease at (often highly) endemic levels; that once established, the disease is unlikely to be eradicable; and that the disease causes serious economic and welfare impacts. 

Our concerns are that these developments may create conditions which can precipitate a more epidemic pattern of spread of the disease. Consequently, a BDD working group was established in August 2012, consisting of representatives from veterinary practice, science, industry and government. 

The purposes of this website are to:
  1. Function as a platform for raising awareness, spreading information and discussion;
  2. Establish early warning mechanisms to detect rising trends in disease;
  3. Present outputs of activities and research;
  4. Act as a resource repository and "meeting point" for the working group.
The amount of information and content on this website will increase over time. Please note that the section for the BDD working group has restricted access. Feel free to explore the site and make the best use of it. For any additional comments or queries, contact us.