July is National Sheep Lameness Month and at this time of year it is not uncommon to see lameness in ewes and lambs out at grass.

Sheep may present with obvious discomfort, limping when walking, or they may be seen kneeling or lying for long periods. Infectious diseases, such as footrot, scald and CODD, are the most common cause of sheep lameness.

Gazette & Herald:

Prevention is always better than cure, however, this is not always easy given that wet weather can predispose animals to disease. Lameness is managed most successfully by a combination of preventative and therapeutic approaches.

The Lameness Reduction Five Point Plan incorporates both:

  1. Quarantine incoming animals – separate bought-in stock for 4 weeks after purchase. Monitor and treat any lameness before introduction to the rest of the flock.
  2. Treat clinical cases early – recent trial data has shown that half of sheep that were lame once became lame again. Treatment with an antibiotic spray can be used as advised by your vet alongside anti-inflammatory pain relief.
  3. Avoid spreading infection at gathering and handling – this can be done by regular foot bathing, improving cleanliness and drainage of handling areas, putting lime around water troughs and grazing fields in rotation.
  4. Vaccinate animals to stimulate immunity – vaccination can prevent and reduce painful lesions caused by footrot.
  5. Cull badly or repeatedly affected animals.

Gazette & Herald:

While we are thinking about sheep, let’s not forget about the boys and the role they have. Anyone wishing to use teaser tups with your breeding flock to help tighten up your lambing period and maximise conception rates need to be getting organised now. Tup vasectomies are a reasonably short procedure carried out under sedation. Surgery should be performed at least 4 weeks prior to use, as they may still be fertile during this time. After using teaser tups it is essential to have enough fertile rams to cope with the resulting compact breeding period. We recommend approximately 1 fertile ram per 25-30 ewes.

Gazette & Herald:

If you are considering using a teaser tup and would like more information or if we can help advise on lameness issues, please phone the practice on 01751 469343 or contact info@derwentvalefarmvets.co.uk.