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Bacterial and fungal infections are among the most prevalent hoof-care issues that farriers face. They also can prove frustrating to get under control, particularly when clients fail to follow through with treatment between farrier visits. There is an option that can help — copper
Copper has a long history of use as an antimicrobial. The Edwin Smith Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text that was written between 2600 and 2200 B.C., records the first medicinal use of copper to sterilize chest wounds and drinking water. The Georg Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text of herbal knowledge that was written around 1550 B.C., recommends copper compounds for headaches, “trembling limbs,” burns, itching and certain growths on the neck.1
Of course, farriers are well aware of the antimicrobial properties of copper sulfate. In De Materia Medica, which was written by Pedanius Dioscorides in the first century A.D., records the use of verdigris and blue vitriol, or copper sulfate, for eye ailments such as inflammation or “bleary” eyes, cataracts, bloodshot eyes and “fat in the eyes.”2
More than half of farriers see a case of thrush each week during the year, according to the 2020 American Farriers Journal Farrier Business Practices survey. Another 20% see thrush monthly, while 8% only deal with it a few times a year. Another 20% indicated thrush is only a seasonal concern. Meanwhile, 20% see white line disease weekly, 24% on a weekly and quarterly basis and another 31% see it annually.