14 June 2002

Dry feet avoids scald

LONG, damp pastures are providing ideal conditions for scald. But foot-bathing and drying out sheeps feet before turning them on to long pasture can help, says independent vet consultant Tony Andrews.

"Scald can be more painful than foot-rot. Damp conditions soften the skin between claws making it susceptible to abrasion, which opens it to infection."

Although it is difficult to prevent scald when animals are grazing on damp pasture, steps can be taken before they enter long grass, he says. "Topping or taking a forage crop from pasture before sheep graze it can help. Also try to foot-bath sheep twice with formalin, copper sulphate or zinc sulphate – about one week apart – before they move to long grass.

"Returning them to short pasture or holding them inside for a day or two dries feet, reducing susceptibility to scald when sheep enter long grass."

Scald is mainly seen in lambs, because their skin is softer than in older animals, but it can precede foot-rot, he adds. "Scald is easy to see. The area between claws is swollen, red and painful with a mucous like discharge. Foot-rot affects the hoof, but bugs causing foot-rot can enter via scald wounds." &#42