Check sheeps feet
HOUSING sheep before checking their feet is asking for trouble, particularly in light of increasing risk of the newly-named contagious ovine digital demititis (CODD).
Independent sheep vet consultant Chris Lewis says that checking sheeps feet before housing could prevent the diseases debilitating effects spreading through flocks. "Putting sheep on damp, warm bedding is ideal for spreading foot problems."
CODD differs from foot-rot because it attacks the coronary band between the horn and skin on the side of the foot. It also smells different, says Mr Lewis. "It is not the characteristic pungent smell of foot-rot, rather a sweeter smell of death.
"The disease is closely related to digital dermatitis in cattle. There is a lot of theory as to how it is carried, but we are still unsure as yet."
Flockmasters should check as many feet as possible before housing and divide ewes into two groups – those with and without lesions. But there is little point footbathing sheep in formalin or zinc sulphate solution if they have CODD, he warns.
"For those sheep with lesions the pain of footbathing in formalin is too much, making it a welfare issue, while zinc sulphate has no effect. You have to see your vet because antibiotics are needed to treat this disease," he adds
However, it is good routine to run sheep with sound feet through a footbath before housing, he says. *