2 November 2001

Homebred flocks favoured to help prevent disease

MANY flocks will switch to breeding their own replacements following foot-and-mouth, as preventing disease is more effective than using expensive treatments, believes Oxon-based Signet consultant Peter Fairbank.

One Oxon-based producer who has benefited from lower labour and drug costs after closing his 1000-ewe flock is Stephen Hart. "Both foot-rot and scald have been eradicated with no cases seen for more than 20 years."

This has improved sheep welfare and performance with lambing rates exceeding 180% for many years. The only stock brought onto the farm is a single Texel ram every two years, which undergoes an eight-week quarantine period before mixing with other animals.

Mr Hart acknowledges that having no neighbouring flocks is a key factor in maintaining his high flock health status. "In addition, gimmers are routinely vaccinated for toxoplasmosis and enzootic abortion, but each time we cut down on vaccination, both diseases return after a few years." &#42