14 November 1997

Scald and foot rot on the rise

WET weather and long grass have combined to increase the level of scald and foot-rot in sheep.

Long, wet grass softens the skin between the cleats of the sheeps foot causing chapping, explains Lincoln based ADAS consultant Alison Lockwood.

"Broken skin then allows scald and foot-rot causing bugs to establish infection," she says.

Scald is less severe than foot rot but is still painful and should be treated immediately – particularly as scald lesions can allow foot- rot to establish, explains Cumbrian vet Matt Colston.

He suggests producers treat sheep with careful foot trimming and by running them through footbaths of formalin or zinc sulphate to reduce infection.

"But while formalin hardens the foot, it can cause foot rot lesions to close over, trapping the bugs inside and increasing the severity of the lesion.

"Zinc sulphate with a detergent additive is particularly effective because it penetrates deeply into the foot and takes out more of the infection," says Mr Colston

He recommends that for maximum efficacy sheep should be left to stand in the footbath for 20min.

20min.

When foot rot is severe and widespread through the flock a vaccination programme devised with a vet should be considered to eliminate the disease, he adds.