Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stamping out lameness in flocks

June 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Livestock

Sheep producers are being encouraged to stamp out lameness in the national flock when the industry highlights ways of better controlling the problem this month.

Later summer months are a great time to start implementing a proven Five-Point Plan for sheep lameness reduction, say experts – and there plenty of advice is available throughout this period to help farmers kick-start their own disease management programme.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) has a target of 2% disease incidence in the national flock by 2021, says Ruth Clements, head of veterinary programmes at farm-based research and development organisation FAI Farms, which developed the Five-Point Plan.

Implemented correctly and with long term commitment, the Five-Point Plan helps farmers build natural disease resilience within the flock, reducing the disease challenge and spread on the farm, and improves flock immunity through vaccination, she said.

“More widespread adoption on farm will also help the sheep sector cut its use of antibiotics for foot infections and meet new industry targets,” said Dr Clements. A special sheep sector task force has already signed up to a 10% reduction in antibiotic use by 2020.

Sheep farmers are generally keen to get on top of any flock lameness issues, but sometimes feel helpless and often find it difficult to know how and where to start. “Now is the time to start thinking about it seriously,” said Dr Clements.

Weaning is an ideal time to cull out any ewes with chronic feet, re-set the breeding flock for the new sheep year. Producers should ask their vet or SQP at their local animal health product supplier for guidance and support with implementing the Five-Point Plan from July onwards.

Farmers looking for practical advice on reducing sheep lameness can visit the MSD Animal Health stands at the National Sheep Association Sheep Event on 18 July in Malvern, and the Royal Welsh Show on 22-26 July in Builth Wells.

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