IFA farmer on a drive to rid sheep of lameness
A sheep meeting with a difference takes place at 8pm on Thursday, July 12, at the Bloomfield House Hotel near Mullingar.
The meeting has been arranged by local sheep farmer and IFA member Eunan Bannon who is spearheading a drive to rid sheep flocks of lameness.
Ten years ago, Eunan eliminated foot-rot lameness from his own 250 ewe flock and he wants others to adopt the strategy which worked for him. It revolves around the fact that the bug which causes foot-rot in sheep can only survive on pasture for a max of 17 days when there are no sheep around. He used a combination of foot bathing and freeing pastures of all sheep for three week breaks to rid his flock of lameness. Teagasc and IFA are supporting this drive against sheep lameness and will be attending the open meeting.
Coincidentally, I see that in Britain there is also a drive to cut out lameness in sheep. The Farmers Weekly is promoting a five-point, anti-lameness plan based on quarantine, culling, treating clinical cases, care and hygiene at handling and vaccination. Crucially their plan makes no mention of resting the ground from sheep. I reckon that this is a major flaw in their approach.
There can be no doubt but that lameness in sheep is a worldwide problem. In Western Australia foot-rot is viewed with such alarm that is a notifiable disease. This is in a country where they don't even have to tag their sheep.
A family cousin who was farming 6,000 ewes south of Perth (Australia) had to depopulate his entire flock when foot-rot was detected. While he was out of sheep, he found that life was a lot easier and, instead of returning to sheep, he bumped up suckler numbers instead.
Have you read the new 'Step by Step Guide to the National Sheep Identification System' that has recently been issued to all flock owners?