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Developing a product range for the treatment of Bovine Digital Dermatitis

Researchers at Queen’s have collaborated with animal healthcare provider Provita Eurotech Ltd in the development of a suite of treatments for bovine digital dermatitis, a condition that affects at least 70% of cattle herds in the United Kingdom.

Research Challenge


Digital dermatitis occurs extensively in cattle, presenting as wart-type lesions on the heel of the infected animal, adversely affecting animal welfare, production and farm profitability. In the UK, at least 70% of herds are affected with about 41% of cattle having lesions.  In Europe and the USA, 70-95% of dairy cattle herds show symptoms and herd prevalence rates averaging between 20-30% . 
Traditional treatment of digital dermatitis was compromised by a number of factors, notably, the short contact time between the affected area and the treatment (typically foot-baths), the high degree of keratinisation of the lesion that protects against the action of antimicrobial agents and the presence of copious organic matter (derived from soil) that reduces the efficacy of treatments.   
As a result, no single formulation is sufficiently robust to offer high efficacy against all stages of the disease. Traditionally, solutions of copper sulphate or formalin have been used to treat this condition, with reported environmental concerns.

Our Approach


Researchers at Queen’s developed and modified a series of antimicrobial, bioadhesive products that initially disinfect wounds around the hoof prior to forming a moisture-resistant polymeric barrier that resists the ingress of microorganisms.  
The antimicrobial properties of the products are facilitated through a synergistic interaction between organic acids and oils from natural sources whereas their efficacy is optimised through the design of the formulations. 
These innovative products avoid many of the concerns of traditional treatments and present new opportunities for the improved treatment of digital dermatitis (regardless of the stage) and related conditions. 

"This twenty-year partnership under your academic leadership has revolutionised Provita Eurotech and has been instrumental in enhancing the size and international reputation of the company” 

- Operations Director, Provita Eurotech Ltd 

What impact did it make?


Provita Eurotech Ltd has now become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of branded, sustainable products for bovine digital dermatitis. 
The company's products have improved the wellbeing of millions of cattle across the world, with the footbath product having been used on over 41 million cow passes globally, greatly reducing the instances of lameness among herds. 
The product is increasingly being seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to previous treatments for bovine digital dermatitis, copper sulphates and formalin, which have environmental issues as contaminates that can cause harm to crops, livestock and humans.  
The  twenty-year partnership between Queen’s University and Provita has had a number of mutual benefits, not least in advancing the reputation of the company in identifying and implementing research based solutions to the most prevalent bovine diseases.  The partnership has shown the benefit of academia and industry working closely together for mutual benefit, identifying opportunities early, and working together to bring suitable products to market.  

Our impact

Impact related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Learn more about Queen’s University’s commitment to nurturing a culture of sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through research and education.

UN Goal 15 - Life on land
UN Goal 03 - Good Health and well-being

Key Facts

  • Queen’s partnership with Provita Eurotech Ltd has developed for over 20 years and has seen the company launch over 20 new products.  

  • Provita Eurotech Ltd is now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of branded, sustainable products for bovine digital dermatitis. 

  • America
  • United Kingdom
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • France
  • Luxembourg
David Jones
School of Pharmacy
Intelligent manufacturing and service deliverySustainable environments and agri-food systems