By susannaalce, Aug 15 2017 12:03PM
Urgh, sheep feet! Yesterday we made an advance (hopefully) in our battle to eradicate limping in the flock. You may or may not know that sheep can often limp and it is not only horrible for them but costly for the farmer.
There's a thing called the 5 Point Plan which someone veterinary came up with.
CULL - get rid of repeat offenders. They keep spreading their foot trouble to the rest of the flock
AVOID - try and avoid sheep gathering in gateways or around mineral buckets etc. Avoid gathering them unnecassarily. They swap foot bugs. And you can put lime around troughs for example where they all tread to keep their feet healthy.
TREAT - as soon as you see it. And mark it so you know who it is.
QUARANTINE - when you bring any new sheep on to the farm you must quarantine them anyway. Sort out any potential problems they have before they give it to everyone else. Footbath them in something that will kill any bugs on their feet.
VACCINATE - you can vaccinate against the footrot bacteria!
I always have a handful of limping ewes :-( Sometimes it is the same ones but I don't have a big enough flock to get rid of them because of this. I catch them and spray their feet with Cyclo spray and sometimes give them antibiotics if they're bad enough.
But we have a lot of lush grass and the ewes are big, fit girls. I think the extra weight can add to their burden. But that's just my theory. The long damp grass between their toes can make their feet a little bad and then they can spread any bacteria they have easily on it too. But they do so well on this grass and I'm loath to cut it too much as it also has a lot of wild flowers.
But we may have to keep the grass cut more, until we have a few more sheep to keep it down.
So I bit the bullet and bought some Footvax and some Formalin. I don't like Formalin. It's nasty toxic stuff and not nice ot work with. I normally footbath in a zinc and copper based solution but they have to stand in ti for a few minutes. It's very hard work doing this as they really don't want to get in it even though it's only 2 inches deep. It's also good for healing foot problems but it's not strong enough to kill the bacterias. Formalin is different. They don't stand in it - they walk through it and straight out again. The sheep are quite happy doing this as they follow (like sheep) and they're happy when they can see an exit.
As I have hurt my back yet again, my husband the musician who is now overtakig me in shepherding skills, turns over any lame ewes (I point at which ones to catch) and I trim anything over grown or pick out any foreign bodies in their feet and if it's really bad she has a jab of antibiotics. Then all the ewes and all the pure Romney lambs had a 1ml jab of Footvax in their neck. The lambs that will go for slaughter didn't, even though there is no withdrawal period on Footvax. They have not had many foot problems. Then the whole flock walked through a formalin footbath and got moved to a clean field. Footrot can live on the grass for 2 weeks so HOPEfully we can stamp it out doing this.