24 November 1995

Flock study on lameness

LAME sheep were found in 92% of flocks covered by a Royal Veterinary College survey.

Preliminary results from a three-year MAFF-funded investigation were given to the 500 farmers and scientists at the Sheep Health and Welfare 95 conference at Malvern, Worcs (see page 40).

Figures were collected through questionnaires posted to 5% of sheep farms and placed in the National Sheep Associations magazine.

Replies related to 758,252 ewes and 427,277 lambs. Of these sheep 73,859 head, or 9.7%, were lame. This indicates that there were 3.9m lame sheep in the UK national flock when the survey was conducted between October 1993 and September 1994.

Outlining the findings, Dr Mac Johnston of the Royal Veterinary College said 89% of cases were attributed to scald, footrot or soilballing. Footbaths were used by 47% of farmers involved in the postal survey and 65% of Sheep Farmer magazine respondents. Despite its irritant, and possibly toxic, effects on both animals and man most flockmasters used formalin.

"Routine foot trimming is commonplace, 90% of farmers trimmed feet, with 26% only trimming lame sheep," Dr Johnston told the Ciba Animal Health/NSA-sponsored conference."

&#8226 Conference report p44.