Livestock

Keep the spring in sheep’s steps

By Country News

Spring is well and truly here, and with it can come foot problems for sheep.

Even during dry conditions, common health issues for sheep include footrot.

There are techniques to determine weather the issue is footrot or a foot abscess.

When sheep stand on moist pasture or muddy ground for an extended period it could lead to developing foot abscesses.

This works together with sheep becoming heavier when there is sufficient feed.

Farmers can spot a foot abscess by noticing the behaviour of the sheep, as they will usually be lame on one foot, whereas footrot will affect more than one foot.

The foot of a sheep with an abscess will appear hot and swollen and could be present in either the toe or the heel of the foot.

A foot abscess contains pus and can be treated by hoof paring to provide drainage for the pus as well as antibiotics prescribed by your veterinarian.

A foot abscess is not contagious.

Footrot is inflammation between the toes and under-running of the hoof caused by the bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus, which spreads in warm and moist conditions.

The severity of the effects of footrot will depend upon whether the strain of bacteria is benign (mild) or virulent (severe).

During spring, footrot can be controlled through foot bathing and can be eradicated in a long, hot, dry summer.

For further advice contact your local veterinarian, or an Agriculture Victoria veterinary officer or animal health officer.

From Agriculture Victoria district veterinary officer Jeff Cave