Navel iodine supply
Most cases of joint ill and other bacteraemic conditions follow inadequate colostrum intake and/or a contaminated environment.
There is a risk of reduced availability/high cost of strong iodine for navel dressing this spring. This has arisen due to production ceasing at the main source in Chile, causing prices to quadruple. Lower iodine concentrations (often quoted as below 7%) are considered to be less effective in drying and disinfecting the navel.
Navel dressing is important, however, most cases of joint ill and other bacteraemic conditions follow inadequate colostrum intake and/or a contaminated environment. The most important things flock farmers can do to avoid these conditions is therefore to ensure an adequate supply of quality colostrum and decrease the environmental challenge of pathogens by:
- Management of the body condition and nutrition of pregnant animals (consider forage analysis and metabolic profiling in later pregnancy)
- Ensuring a high quality and quantity of clean colostrum intake in the first hours of life
- Provision of a clean and dry lambing/calving environment
It is not appropriate to use tetracycline antibiotic sprays for treating the navels of neonatal animals – they do not dry them very effectively and it is an unnecessary use of antibiotics. Similarly, it is not appropriate to plan to use blanket systemic/oral antibiotic prophylaxis to control neonatal infections
Alternative navel dressings
Navel dressing can help reduce some risk and there are proprietary alternatives to iodine on the market. Agents that desiccate with residual antibacterial activity are likely to be the best choice. There are little or no data available on their use in lambs, and limited data available in calves.
- Vetericyn Super 7 Plus spray/dip – sodium hydroxide and alcohol in electrolysed water (which produces sodium hydroxide), with sodium bicarbonate. Small study showing reduced navel drying time in calves compared with 7% iodine tincture with no increase in infections.
- Repiderma spray – chelated copper sulphate, zinc chloride and alcohol in butane. Small study showing no significant difference in navel drying time or signs of navel infection compared with 4% iodine.
- 4% chlorhexidine, or a 50/50 mix 4% chlorhexidine and alcohol – there are limited studies reporting equivalence with 7% iodine.
- 70% alcohol (dries the navel but antibacterial effects are short lasting)
- Copper sulphate solution (may not dry as effectively, precautions required to avoid contact with skin, eyes and clothing).
It is important to scrutinise the safety datasheet for whatever product is used, including the requirements for disposal.
Ensure an adequate supply of quality colostrum through management of the body condition and nutrition of pregnant animals, ensure good colostrum intake and provide a clean and dry lambing/calving environment.
If alternatives to 7% iodine are required as navel dressings:
- Agents that desiccate with residual antibacterial activity are likely to be the best choice
- Do not use tetracycline antibiotic sprays
- Products with iodine concentrations lower than 7% will be less effective and so are not recommended
- Scrutinise the safety datasheet for whichever product is used
Posted by SRUC Veterinary Services on 12/01/2023