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Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

Last post Wed, Sep 18 2013 14:59 by Jacobus. 60 replies.
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  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 10:22

    • miss t
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    Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    We are kick starting campaign called stamp out lameness over the next couple of months. Surprising for some, but it’s not looking at lameness in dairy cows, but rather sheep.

    Data has shown at least 3 million sheep are lame at any one time in the UK, with possibilities that 6-9 million sheep become lame over the course of a year, with footrot present in more than 97% of flocks.

    We would be interested to hear whether lameness is an issue or your farm and what problems you have come up against. Why not carry on this thread and share your thoughts 

  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 16:36 In reply to

    • Peter Wells
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    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    Just to get your replies started!

    We have a small flock and lameness occurs mainly as a result of chafing in the cleat caused by long grass on some of our rented in grazing land. Foot rot is rare but in all cases we treat sheep individually and not en-masse. Should foot rot arise those are seperated out for a while and given the 'magic' blue Alamycin or Tetramycin. Injections are only rarely needed.

    We do however ensure that the flock has constant access to multi mineral licks and, once a year, to the Denis Brinicome foot lick. (I've forgotten its name) But as a result, soft hooves are a thing of the past.

    We last ran them through the foot bath eight years ago.

    However, those farmers with commercial flocks cannot afford the time to conduct their businesses the way we conduct ours. Their tasks are, in so many ways, much harder than ours.

  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 17:42 In reply to

    • Gulli
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    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

     

    Peter Wells:

    However, those farmers with commercial flocks cannot afford the time to conduct their businesses the way we conduct ours. Their tasks are, in so many ways, much harder than ours.

    what makes you say this? surely things like lameness in the flock are what commercial farmers should be spending their time on?

     

  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 18:05 In reply to

    • windymiller
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    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    kill/breed the problem out, out of about 1500 ewes, i can only think of about 5 or 6 with foot rot here, might get the odd lamb with scald after putting in heavy grass later in summer.
  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 20:55 In reply to

    • BrownCow
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    • South Wales

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    Gulli:

     

    Peter Wells:

    However, those farmers with commercial flocks cannot afford the time to conduct their businesses the way we conduct ours. Their tasks are, in so many ways, much harder than ours.

    what makes you say this? surely things like lameness in the flock are what commercial farmers should be spending their time on?

    When we were properly commercial lameness was no more tolerated than it is now.  The only difference is that I can now vaccinate for footrot and after an initial cull of about 5% there is now no footrot in the flock.  They run through the footbath when they come in for worming which prevents scald being a problem and that works for us.  With a bad back tipping up sheep is not an option, plus lame sheep don't make money they just make work.

    Do as you would be done by.
  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 21:16 In reply to

    • topdog
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    • Lancaster

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    We have a few lame sheep as everyone will, mainly through overgrown feet and occasional scald and footrot. Every year we turn every sheep up a minimum of once (due to start next week) so all overgrown feet are clipped and sprayed with terramycin and really bad ones get injected with some Alamycin LA. Footbath later in summer if/when they require it.
    "There is no good flock without a good shepherd and no good shepherd without a good dog"
  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 22:09 In reply to

    • Gulli
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    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    BrownCow:

    When we were properly commercial lameness was no more tolerated than it is now.  The only difference is that I can now vaccinate for footrot and after an initial cull of about 5% there is now no footrot in the flock.  They run through the footbath when they come in for worming which prevents scald being a problem and that works for us.  With a bad back tipping up sheep is not an option, plus lame sheep don't make money they just make work.

     

    this is what i was getting at, spend time making sure your sheep arent lame, and that will give you more time in the long term.

     

  • Fri, Apr 27 2012 22:10 In reply to

    • concreter
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    • North East Essex

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    We used to have a problem but don't really now.

    We vaccinate and trim every ewe in the lambing pen, holding back any bad ones (none this year again I am very pleased to say) The lambs often get scald in the winter - we keep many until they are nearly a year old as we put a few through the shop every week and it is a waste to creep feed the lot. One trip through the trusty footbath with zinc whatever in it sorts that out.

    All our fields are on the roadside near several wildlife reserves, many people stop to tell us that they think that a particular sheep has a limp (many of these people have the RSPCA on friends and family I suspect) I spray mark the head of every ewe when it goes out so that when the worthy public asks about a sheep I can ask if it has a mark on its head - yes they reply (often showing me a photo) and I can then truthfully inform them that the sheep has been treated.

    Problem at the moment - mud between the cleats - it will be worse when the bright shiny thing in the sky starts to work properly and the mud goes hard.

  • Sat, Apr 28 2012 17:29 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    We have a lot of a breed (cotswolds) that seem to have feet that are susceptible to scald, because of the breeds at risk status it would be difficult to breed it out. Management is the only option. Footbath when moving them, regular trimming and plenty of blue spray, Alamycin if the Ewe has been lame more than a couple of days. Touch wood no Rot as yet, just Scald, certainly now we've had a couple of damp weeks. Just off out to do a Ewe now that somebody has said is limping so watch this space. As others on this forum have said, we get a lot of phone calls from Joe public. I reckon they think that you can cure a lame Ewe 'just like that'. Its certainly something I worry about, people thinking we are being neglectful.
  • Sat, Apr 28 2012 20:20 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    We get the odd lame ewe as do most farmers but if we see one it is caught and treated asap. I think it's a depressing sight to see a lame sheep so imagine what it's been like for me this winter and spring to have just over the hedge, a field of neighbour's ewe lambs on fodder beet with very few able to put their four feet on the ground. I'm afraid he spends far too much time at the nineteenth hole up the road and not enough at home. His father would turn in his grave.

    Three years ago we started vaccinating the ewe lambs before going on tack and it has made a huge difference in the amount of lameness here.

  • Sat, Apr 28 2012 20:32 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    I've had a look at that Ewe I was talking about, and reckon she's got shelly hoof. Anybody got any tips? She had a a small amount of wool break after lambing and has been doing a large ram lamb well. Shes getting a little concentrate and is on very good and lush pasture. Its one of my better halfs show sheep so I'd better get her right quick!!!
  • Sat, Apr 28 2012 21:06 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    We had a serious lameness problem a few years ago. We vaccinated for about 3 yrs, stopped using formalin and used lincospectin or tylan powder instead and culled the persistent problem cases. We don't have much trouble now. We do treat any lame sheep individually with terramycin spray and a jab and we run the sheep through the footbath with tylan powder to keep the scald at bay when the weather is wet or the grass is too long, or both.

    http://www.holidaycambriancoast.co.uk/

    http://www.cottages4you.co.uk/cottages/llechwedd-mawr-oq2
  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 12:42 In reply to

    • BrownCow
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    • South Wales

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    If you got 500 people out of a football crowd, how many would be lame?  I bet there would be a few cases of athletes foot, the odd sprained ankle, maybe a case of gout.  If you got hold of 500 mothers you would find a few lame ones as well. 

    We have a neighbour who has been trying to be "helpful" for years.  He has rung us up about dead calves (sleeping), depressed horse (head down in the summer shade), lambs bullying each other (doing what lambs do).  We have always been polite and checked then reported back.  This spring he excelled himself.  "I've been watching a ewe since last night.  She has been on her back and now the crows are pecking her face".  This at 7.00 the next morning.  He is thrilled that he has caught us being negligent. 

    Do as you would be done by.
  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 17:47 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    we've been battling c.o.d.d. for the last 2 years, i think i can finally say we are almost on top of it now, being on water meadows with most field's having a ditch or 2 running through, surrounded by willow trees that the sheep like to take cover under in bad weather, or hot sunshine, it spread like wild fire, along with this we are in a h.l.s. so can't top the fields without a derogation, apart from thistles and nettles, last year we ended up with a bad case of scald also, -------i am a firm believer in foot trimming sheep, most of the problems ive encountered is down to over grown hoof's i know of a few who swear you shouldn't touch the foot unless it is lame as this will cause a problem, but prevention is better than cure as they say. the year we didn't get around to trimming every sheep on lambing is the year we ended up with the c.o.d.d. starting, although it could have been down to some we bought in as replacements.---------- like WW has mentioned tylan powder put into a foot bath is the best thing to use, i haven't found much success with terramycin spray, the most effective i have found is septi-cleanse (purple spray) along with a jab of draxxin for any that are not clearing up.
  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 18:13 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    baa-lamb:
    the year we didn't get around to trimming every sheep on lambing is the year we ended up with the c.o.d.d. starting, although it could have been down to some we bought in as replacements.

    More likely that you bought the problem in than it being a lack of trimming IMHO.

    In my experience over trimming can cause more problems than it solves. Our vet advised us to only trim lame ewes and even with them only trim what was loose. If you draw blood you're creating a new source of infection.

    http://www.holidaycambriancoast.co.uk/

    http://www.cottages4you.co.uk/cottages/llechwedd-mawr-oq2
  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 18:52 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    it's quite likely it was brought in, i would agree over trimming would cause problems, but really all ewes should have their feet trimmed once a year, and any with feet that grow extra fast maybe again when needed, ie; a curled up toe. IMHO thous who are drawing blood are doing it wrong, and each one trimmed should see the clippers dipped in formulin to prevent spread of infection from any that had a problem.
  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 19:18 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    baa-lamb:
    and any with feet that grow extra fast maybe again when needed, ie; a curled up toe

    Cull them.

    baa-lamb:
    IMHO thous who are drawing blood are doing it wrong,

    True but inevitable in some cases.

    http://www.holidaycambriancoast.co.uk/

    http://www.cottages4you.co.uk/cottages/llechwedd-mawr-oq2
  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 20:22 In reply to

    • Gulli
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    • Joined on Tue, Sep 7 2010

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

     

    baa-lamb:
    it's quite likely it was brought in, i would agree over trimming would cause problems, but really all ewes should have their feet trimmed once a year, and any with feet that grow extra fast maybe again when needed, ie; a curled up toe. IMHO thous who are drawing blood are doing it wrong, and each one trimmed should see the clippers dipped in formulin to prevent spread of infection from any that had a problem.

    if i can find it then i will link you to some research into trimming versus not trimming feet, personally I wouldnt want to trim ewes every year, but then some people seem to enjoy hard work.

  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 20:50 In reply to

    • topdog
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    • Lancaster

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    Gulli:
    if i can find it then i will link you to some research into trimming versus not trimming feet, personally I wouldnt want to trim ewes every year, but then some people seem to enjoy hard work
    Gulli:
    if i can find it then i will link you to some research into trimming versus not trimming feet, personally I wouldnt want to trim ewes every year, but then some people seem to enjoy hard work
    I'm not being rude but you can I think you can almost prove ANY theory if you spend long enough looking for it on the internet. We have a harrington to turn the sheep up every spring, we are already handling everything as we worm the ewes and clean off the muck from the tail area so we just check their feet while they are upside down, if they don't need it we don't do it but we have seen every foot and know any potential problems are sorted. It takes us about a week to go through everything but we are also marking and scratching lambs as we do it. Some years we also give all the lambs feet a quick squirt of terramycin to hold off any scold outbreaks as well.
    "There is no good flock without a good shepherd and no good shepherd without a good dog"
  • Sun, Apr 29 2012 21:05 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    i would agree a ewe should be culled with a reoccurring bad foot, but with the price of ewes now, and the time it take's to trim and treat it is more cost effective to spend a few secs trimming a hoof than it is to, replace the sheep, especially if she produces nice lambs and is young,-------- in our set up the ewes and lambs are run through a prattley at least ever 5-6 weeks through out their lamb rearing time so it is of no bother to catch the ewes then and trim any that are lame, by say it is of no bother of course it isnt nice to have a lame one for obvious reasons.---- gulli, like i said in the first post i know of a few who swear you shouldn't touch a hoof unless its lame, i am sure they would argue all the same reasons as you would about it, but it does make me wonder with the rising numbers of sheep lameness if it is down to them catching a large amount of problems from over grown hoof's harboring muck, etc. that could be avoided and save some from developing problems, that then require them to endure pain while it is treated and being another to add to the rising % age we now have lame
  • Mon, Apr 30 2012 14:46 In reply to

    • BrownCow
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Oct 4 2010
    • South Wales

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    If a ewe is dealing with foot rot then she is less able to fight off other infections and so more likely to get mastitis, she is going to lie down more so feed less affecting milk supply, and on my observations, if you get rid of footrot in the shed you are going to have far less prolapses.  Whether that is because of physical stresses or not I don't know but it seems to be connected.  If a lame sheep needs more than one treatment get rid of it.  The only trimming mine get is walking up the road every six weeks or so.  I dare say that if I kept them until they were 7 they might need trimming but they are gone by then.   You would never tolerate trimming every cow in a suckler herd, it is only because you can turn a ewe up on your own that you might think it doesn't cost you but it does.  Incidentally we are just as hard on the cows.

    Do as you would be done by.
  • Mon, Apr 30 2012 16:48 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    baa-lamb:
    i would agree a ewe should be culled with a reoccurring bad foot, but with the price of ewes now, and the time it take's to trim and treat it is more cost effective to spend a few secs trimming a hoof than it is to, replace the sheep, especially if she produces nice lambs and is young

    Well OK then I can see your point, but perhaps you should put the problem ewes to a terminal sire. At least then you won't be breeding replacements from them.

    http://www.holidaycambriancoast.co.uk/

    http://www.cottages4you.co.uk/cottages/llechwedd-mawr-oq2
  • Mon, Apr 30 2012 18:49 In reply to

    • Gulli
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, Sep 7 2010

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

     

    topdog:
    I'm not being rude but you can I think you can almost prove ANY theory if you spend long enough looking for it on the internet. We have a harrington to turn the sheep up every spring, we are already handling everything as we worm the ewes and clean off the muck from the tail area so we just check their feet while they are upside down, if they don't need it we don't do it but we have seen every foot and know any potential problems are sorted. It takes us about a week to go through everything but we are also marking and scratching lambs as we do it. Some years we also give all the lambs feet a quick squirt of terramycin to hold off any scold outbreaks as well.

    it is warwick uni (i think) doing a big project on footrot, but damned if i can find the link, i will have another look for it.

    and its all very well saying that it doesnt take much time turning ewes and trimming feet routinely, but  say you spend a minute doing the feet of every ewe you turn over, thats an hour you could save for every 60 sheep you turn. breed it out of your flock and spend that time on something more profitable.

    edit: here's the fw article on it http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/17/04/2012/127354/Five-steps-to-beating-lameness.htm

     

  • Mon, Apr 30 2012 20:04 In reply to

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    WW, all ours goes to terminal sires, we don't keep any apart from the pure Charolais or texal's lambs, we tend to buy in all our replacements, we did one year buy 100 odd swaydales and crossed them with a blue faced Leicester but the wetherer lambs took so long to reach their weight and the markets didnt like them as much
  • Mon, Apr 30 2012 20:20 In reply to

    • dogjon
    • Top 500 Contributor
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    • Joined on Wed, May 7 2008
    • Oregon USA

    Re: Lameness in sheep- is it a problem in your flock?

    Thanks for the link Gulli. Overall a good article I thought but mostly just common sense. I agree that it can be bred out and we're of the notion here that if you have to foot trim regularly you've got the wrong sheep for your environment. The question I have is how can you select for natural resistance if you are vaccinating? what breeds are favored for low wet ground over there on the basis of their feet?

    Jon

    Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgement.
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