Lameness in sheep is one of the main welfare problems in the UK sheep population. Lamness can be managed by following simple preventative and treatment measures. If untreated it can result in huge welfare and economical problems in flock. An animal suffering will spend less time feeding and grazing and more time lying down due to decrease in body condition. It will also result in lower lambing percentages, reduced growth rates in lambs and poor fertility in rams.
Footrot is very common condition, it is extremely painful and very contagious. Animals will often be found carrying the affected leg or will be recumbent for long periods of time. If both front feet are affected, animals will walk on their knees. It causes rapid loss of body condition. It is caused by two different types of bacteria- Dichelobacter nodusus and Fusobacterium necrophorum. The first sign of footrot is swelling and moistening of the inter-digital skin. A break occurs at the skin horn junction from where infection spreads under the horn tissue so that the wall of the hoof becomes separated and the sole under-run. Wet conditions soften the inter-digital space making it more susceptible to bacterial penetration. Housed sheep are also at risk from damp, warm bedding. Affected feet have a very characteristic foul smell. In chronic cases, the hoof walls and toes become overgrown and misshapen, trapping dirt and inflammatory exudate between the inflamed, granulating soft tissues of the sole and overgrown horn. Affected feet may be fly-struck.
Peaks occur normally between April and June then again later between August and October in the UK. Rotational grazing and isolating those animals with the disease can help to control as the bacteria can survive off the foot for up to 12 days.
It is much better and more cost effective to prevent lameness than to treat the disease. Footvax is a vaccination which will help you to combat the problem before it occurs.
With the drier late summer months it is a very good time to put in to place a flock lameness reduction programme and reduced the cost associated with this horrible disease. The estimated losses from footrot alone are thought to be £6 a year for every ewe in the UK.
To help reduce these costs the use of Footvax vaccine as part of the industry supported five-point lameness reduction plan can help. The five-point plan builds up flock resilience to disease, reduces the infection challenge on the farm and establishes immunity. This will result in a significant reduction in the number of lame sheep on the farm.
Vaccination with Footvax is an aid to preventing lameness in a flock by stimulating immunity to (and reducing lesions caused by) Dichelobacter nodosus, the bacteria causing footrot. The vaccination should be given to the whole flock at times when high risk of disease is at risk to the farm.
For further information about Footvax and the five-point plan do not hesitate to contact your local representative or shop.