Don’t limp around good Biosecurity
On farm biosecurity is critically important for the protection against localised diseases such as foot rot. It is in fact one of the most common diseases we see being transferred by livestock movements costing the Australian producer over $44 million annually. Almost every case of livestock disease transfer on Australian farms occurs by bringing infected animals onto the farm. Therefore, its vital producers follow the basics of an effective 4-Way quarantine drench, foot bathing off trucks, and keeping new animals separate from other livestock for 14 days with daily observation during quarantine for health issues. Similarly, a well implemented biosecurity plan both on farm and at the border provides a vital first line defence against a worst-case scenario exotic disease reaching Australia or perhaps your farm, a situation that could have devastating consequences for your livestock enterprise
Having as solid understanding of lameness in sheep is the first step to preventing and managing health issues. Lameness in southern high rainfall zone is a significant tax on profitability, labour, and overall mental health. There are several causes of lameness in sheep, some easier to manage than others. Most importantly is to properly diagnose the lameness source with the help of an animal health professional. Some of the many issues that may cause lameness include heel abscess, toe abscess, OID (Ovine Interdigital Dermatitis), shelly toe, strawberry footrot, scabby mouth, Laminitis, grass seed impaction, virulent footrot, benign footrot and scald. A number of these have similar looking symptoms (red swelling between toes, sweaty with a smell) and are spread under similar conditions (avg daily temperature of 10°c and over in damp to wet conditions). As spring draws closer, an increase in spreadable lameness will typically occur.
Most importantly producers must be vigilant against footrot. Footrot affects more than 20% of sheep flocks in some South-eastern Australia thus there is a high possibility that the repeated lameness you see may well be footrot. The cost of labour, loss of production and stress on the sheep and staff in trying to control footrot without a structured plan can be much higher than the cost of an eradication/management programme.
Producers should never feel alone when trying to manage footrot. Expert advice is readily available giving access to the tools needed to overcome the challenge. Successfully managing footrot requires commitment, understanding and open dialogue between farmers, their advisers, and the farming community. Removing the stigma around footrot is incredibly important to enable the livestock industry to concentrate on dealing with it rather than trying to hide it.
If you would like to learn more about Biosecurity plans for your business or want to find out your options for managing lameness in your flock, feel free to contact your local Western AG Animal Health Specialist or the Western AG Livestock Production Specialist Geordie Elliott on 0438 874 587.
Article produced by - Geordie Elliott, Western AG Hamilton