Patent Review

Denmark-US partners file patent for zinc-copper blend to treat digital dermatitis in herd cattle

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Duncan_Andison
© GettyImages/Duncan_Andison
European feed processor, Dantrace-Danfeed, and US industrial ag-firm, DPI Global, have joined forces on a patent for zinc-copper gluconate feed additives to treat bovine digital dermatitis in herd cattle.

Writing in the US Patent​ the companies said dietary supplementation with zinc and copper gluconates could be used to prevent and treat Bovine digital dermatitis (BDD) – an infectious skin inflammation near the claws of cattle leading to substantial pain and discomfort in the animal.

Supplementation could be provided to individual animals or entire herds as a preventative measure or cure in concentrate form, in silage or drinking water for at least three weeks, ideally up to 36 months.

Dantrace-Danfeed's initial international patent was filed back in 2016 but company owner and patent inventor Jens Pederson listed Distributors Processing Inc (DPI Global) as a US-based assignee for the US and global patent late last year, backdating DPI Global as the shared patent holder for the invention.

Asked about the addition of DPI Global as an assignee, Pederson told FeedNavigator that they did not wish to comment at this stage.

Dantrace-Danfeed has been DPI Global's Denmark distributor for some time for its Micro-Aid feed additive that eliminates odors and reduces ammonia and other noxious gases in cattle, poultry and other species.

Treating a 'significant problem'

The patent said BDD was a “significant economic problem” ​for the farming industry with treatment costs high and economic values of the animal reduced. In dairy, for example, BDD could lower milk production rates and was often associated with lower milk quality.

While numerous treatments for digital dermatitis were already available, the companies said most of them were medicinal and focused primarily on vaccination, antibiotics, and topical treatments. In addition, “no single treatment of digital dermatitis has proven adequate without concomitant improvements in stall hygiene and daily care of the cattle”, ​particularly claw chipping or cutting.

The use of trace mineral supplements, including zinc, manganese and copper, had already been recognized as a potential method to treat BDD, but absorption remained an issue, particularly with zinc oxide that typically had a 20% uptake in the digestive system.

“The present inventor has now surprisingly observed that feeding zinc, copper, or zinc and copper in the form of zinc gluconate and copper gluconate to stabled cattle already infected with digital dermatitis has a positive effect on the incidence level of digital dermatitis and on the general infectious level in the stabled cattle,”​ the patent said. 

'Synergistic' effect

During the zinc-copper treatment, the companies said the animal should also have any lesions treated with standard topical care, ideally salicylic acid bandages. Zinc and copper gluconates, they said, had a “synergistic effect”​ with topical treatment – something “completely unexpected and not foreseen by the prior art”. 

The companies said copper gluconate should be incorporated at levels between 5-40mg per kilo of dry feed, ideally between 5-10mg, and zinc gluconate at 35-500mg per kilo, ideally 40-60mg. These levels ensured adequate uptake even in modern dairy and cattle farming setups where cows could enter and feed at their own leisure.

Source: WIPO Patent No. US 20180169056

Published: June 21, 2018. Filed: June 17, 2016.

Title: “Oral use of zinc- and copper gluconates in the treatment of digital dermatitis”

Authors: Dantrace-Danfeed and DPI Global

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