IMPROVEMENTS in sheep lameness are to be targeted by the government after recommendations from the Farm Animal Welfare Council.
MAFF proposes to amend the welfare code for sheep to emphasise the importance of appropriate prevention and treatment of lameness in sheep.
Junior farm minister Angela Browning said a government-funded survey, carried out by the Royal Veterinary College, had found an 8% incidence of lameness on sheep holdings in 1993/94.
Mrs Browning said that was now being followed up by on-farm investigations into the different causes of lameness with a view to developing improved control.
"The government is concerned that sheep lameness is a signficant problem both for welfare and economic reasons," she added.
Mike Prettijohn, Sheep Veterinary Society president, said too many farmers still did not know how to deal with footrot and when to treat sheep.
"Our view is that farmers should treat regularly using foot baths. When they do get chronic cases sheep should be treated with antibiotics." *