The best time to tackle footrot is during a dry spell when as few sheep as possible are on the farm. For many people this means autumn but clearly the weather doesn’t always co-operate and the problem cannot be ignored for the rest of the year. It has been shown that prompt injection of antibiotics within three days of a sheep first becoming lame with footrot will reduce the spread of infection to other animals in the flock.
The Five Point Plan supported by EBLEX and AHDB was developed based on research carried out at various universities and FAI farms. The recommendations are as follows:
- Lame sheep spread disease to others in the flock. After weaning cull ewes that have been lame twice through the season or who always have mis-shapen feet. They are sources of infection to other sheep.
- Reduce disease challenge. Footrot spreads best in wet, muddy conditions. Improve underfoot conditions in handling systems, gateways and tracks. Use lime in pens and races and move buckets/troughs regularly.
- All lame sheep within 3 days. Untreated sheep will start to lose weight after one week. If the problem is footrot inject with the correct dose of antibiotics as agreed with your vet. Mark/record the individual ID in case the problem recurs.
- Don’t add to your problems. Footbath all incoming sheep, inspect their feet and quarantine for at least 3 weeks. The bacteria that causes footrot does not survive for very long on grass. Leaving fields free of sheep for a couple of weeks should ensure it has disappeared. Ideally in coming sheep should be kept isolated for as long as possible eg mated by themselves etc. Further the “quarantine” field should be left for as long as possible before being grazed by the main flock. Shutting it up post quarantine for using as the first grazing next spring is ideal.
- Vaccine can be used to both treat and prevent footrot. Use before high risk times of year e.g. pre tupping or housing. (Injectable wormers containing moxidectin 1% should not be given to sheep that have been vaccinated with Footvax.)
For more information see www.fwi.co.uk/stampoutlameness.
Heather Stevenson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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