Protect your profit from lameness losses

Michael Gottstein

Lameness can knock virtually all potential growth rate off your lambs and/or prevent your ewes from taking the ram so the farmer should aim to keep lameness below 5pc in the flock at all times.

The causes of lameness are footrot, scald and in some cases Contagious Ovine Digital Dermatitis (CODD). A proper footbath, appropriate concentrations of solution and frequent use of the footbath is key to getting the first two conditions under control.

CODD, on the other hand, will not respond to foot bathing and will therefore need antibiotic treatment under veterinary advice.

The only way to achieve a lameness level under 5pc is to have a functional footbath where the entire flock can be easily and effectively foot bathed when they are in for routine health care treatments or lamb drafting.

The correct concentrations are listed in the table right.

The aim should be to maximise the length of time that the sheep's feet are in contact with the solution by standing them in it or walking them through the solution a number of times.

After the sheep have been foot bathed, it is important that they are allowed to stand on a clean concrete or gravel area for as long a possible (ideally 30 minutes) so that the solution has time to work.

Any lame sheep should be turned and pared.

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It is important not to use antibiotic sprays when the feet are wet, such as post-foot bathing or in wet weather, as the moisture will deactivate the antibiotic spray.

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