About the campaign
Read about the issue of sheep lameness
Sheep lameness is a significant welfare, economic and public image issue in the UK. A Farm Animal Welfare Council Opinion released on lameness in sheep in 2011 revealed that since 1994 the incidence of lameness has remained the same.
Data suggests at least three million sheep are lame at any one time in the UK, with possibilities that six to nine million sheep become lame over the course of a year.
The FAWC Opinion recommended the government should enforce the law relating to the welfare of farm sheep using various penalties. It also suggested the government work with the industry to develop a national strategy to reduce lameness in sheep.
A five step strategy has been developed that has been shown to cut lameness levels by up to half in the first year. Based on five key areas trial work by FAI Farms as well as other independent farms has found that a lameness level of 2% is achievable but every point in the plan is important to follow (it won’t work if you just work on one area).
The Farmers Weekly Stamp Out Lameness campaign will look at the steps farmers can take to try and reduce lameness to the desired 2% on farms.
UK sheep farmers continue to struggle with flock lameness problems. One of the main reasons has been the lack of an industry-wide practical lameness reduction protocol, but thanks to the proven five-point plan flockmasters now have an effective disease control strategy available to them. Stick with it and flock lameness incidence can be cut to 2% and below within two years.
For foot-rot control, vaccination as part of the proven five-point flock lameness reduction programme provides effective treatment for infected sheep, as well as protection against the onset of the disease.
The Footvax vaccine allows sheep to build immunity to Dichelobacter nodusus – the key bacterium implicated in footrot. Unfortunately, unvaccinated sheep do not develop lasting immunity to this bacterium, which means they will always remain susceptible to the disease.
Footvax vaccination programmes should be tailored to meet individual flock disease control requirements and used in conjunction with the other four plan points. Wherever possible, whole flock vaccination should be adopted.
MSD Animal Health