Sheep lameness is one of the most important health and welfare issues affecting sheep farms in the UK. The 5 Point Plan has been developed to help manage footrot in particular. However, some of the principles are important to controlling other causes of lameness.
In November Linda from MSD came to our Clitheroe branch to chat about how you could reduce lameness on your farm.
She started with some hard hitting facts; the estimated cost of lameness is ~£9/ewe/case, with this rising to nearly ~£80/ewe once you factor in losses in production. (E.g. reduced growth rates of lambs, lower lambing percentages, etc). It is estimated that 90% of farms in the UK are affected by footrot. But there are many other diseases that can occur and often lameness causes are mixed. So, step one is to identify what the cause of lameness is on your farm.
Contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD), scald and footrot are the most common, but shelley hoof, foot abscesses, toe granulomas and strawberry foot can also be important on an individual case by case basis. The treatments for each can be slightly different depending on the cause, for example footbathing is great for controlling scald and footrot but can make lameness worse and spread the problem in CODD. If you are unsure about the cause on your farm or the correct treatment options, contact the vets to discuss this further.
Management methods need to be individually tailored to your farms problems and needs. The 5 point plan focuses on:
Culling repeat offenders
Two strikes and you’re out, its understood there’s a genetic predisposition to lameness plus reduces the spread from ewes to their lambs
Treatment of lame sheep quickly
Treatment of lame sheep quickly and with the correct drug. Routine trimming of feet is NOT recommended as it can spread disease and damage the delicate underlying foot.
Isolate brought in sheep for a minimum of 4 weeks, ideally footbathing and checking their feet and treating any issues
High traffic areas can be a risk of spreading infection so development of poached areas should be avoided.
If all other areas of the plan are ticked, Footvax can be used to help build flock immunity to footrot.
Under the Project L.A.M.B. initiative MSD have developed a control plan to help see how well you are implementing the 5 point plan and highlight any areas you could improve in.
Linda did a great job condensing sheep lameness into an evening talk, if you would like to know more or are having issues on your farm contact your local practice to discuss this further.