Principal investigator: Laura Green
50% of sheep across the UK are affected by footrot annually, causing pain, reduced body condition, ewe productivity and lamb growth rate. It affects the welfare of hundreds of thousands of sheep, the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and costs the UK sheep industry in the region of £24 million every year. Farmers, veterinarians and the public consider lameness the sheep disease with greatest impact on welfare.
Many farmers use preventive measures to control lameness in their flocks including selective culling, vaccination, foot-bathing, foot-trimming and selection of non-lame replacement sheep but, as it is difficult for farmers to correctly identify the exact cause of the lameness, the evidence of benefit is limited. Footrot accounted for 90% of all foot lameness in UK flocks in 2011 and through correct diagnosis of the cause of lameness, together with correct treatment, there is the potential to reduce levels to around 2%.
This study involved the development and testing of a holistic lameness control plan to combine current evidence and farm managements. A final plan was developed to give vets, advisors and farmers a tool with a ‘must, should, could’ management guide on how to best prevent lameness in flocks.