2013-10-07   facebooktwitterrss
Lame Sheep Loose Money

Lameness in sheep can be reduced with careful planning asserts vet Mairéad O’Grady.

Speaking in Ballymena, Mairéad urged farmers to reduce the incidence of lameness in their flocks to under 2% which would dramatically improve animal welfare, livestock performance and profits.


Reduce costly lameness with careful planning,” advises vet Mairéad O’Grady

“This can be done with a well planned and on-going package of measures beginning with correct diagnosis as this is the key to success. Approximately 90% of lameness is due to two easily recognised conditions -Scald and Footrot.

“However, other possible causes of lameness include Toe Fibroma due to over paring and with a characteristic strawberry like growth at the end of the toe which bleeds easily. Another condition to be aware of is Shelly Hoof or White Line Disease where the wall separates from the hoof.

“Increasingly we see cases of Contagious Ovine Digital Dermatitis, CODD, characterised by lesions at the coronary band followed by loss of hair and even complete detachment of the hoof as the condition progresses.

“Taking time to find out the cause of lameness will be time well spent given that lame sheep do not perform well as regards growth or fertility and are prone to other diseases."

Continuing Mairead, a veterinarian with MSD Animal Health, said farmers working with their attending vets can prepare a lameness control plan that will have a major impact on overall flock health, performance and returns.

“No one measure, no single treatment is going to keep every ewe and ram sound,” Mairead affirmed. “Instead it is back to the basics of good sheep husbandry in conjunction with appropriate treatments and vaccination.

“Segregating problem sheep and newly purchased sheep from the main flock is a low cost way to stop disease spreading through a flock. Few flock owners segregate purchases for a 4 week quarantine period for a variety of reasons, including lack of time before tupping commences or the lack of available space.

“Equally important is the need to cull individuals that do not respond to treatment.”

Mairéad O’Grady then reviewed the role of footbaths, paring, sprays and long acting antibiotic used in consultation with the farm vet.

“There is an important role for vaccination against footrot in affected flocks as it both aids in the treatment of affected sheep and protects against the spread of the disease amongst the flock.

“Vaccinated flocks require fewer treatments for lameness and can have a lower incidence of diseases associated with stress including pneumonia, abortions and Twin Lamb Disease.

“To get started with footrot vaccine, administer two injections four to six weeks apart and isolate any lame sheep at this point. This allows for aggressive treatment and identification of lame individuals that may need to be culled if they fail to respond.

“A booster injection of footrot vaccine two to four weeks before the next risk period is also required. If footrot is a problem year round the vaccine can be administered every 6 months. Sheep do not develop an adequate immune response to natural infection hence the vaccine is beneficial for ongoing footrot control. Farmers can agree the most appropriate regime for their flocks in consultation with their attending vet.
“Above all, attention to detail can dramatically reduce the level of lameness in flocks.”


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