Diseases can damage your flock easily, so it’s important to keep an eye on every one of your sheep. We’ve covered shelly hoof and foot abscesses in part 6 of our Sheep Guide, but today the focus is on foot-rot and scald.
These two problems can cause lameness just like shelly hoof and foot abscesses, so it’s an important thing to prevent, identify, and treat.
Scald is identified by red or pink inflammation and sore skin between hooves. There might also be a white or grey thick scum on top. Bad odours might be present too. Even a mild case of scald, which would cause small lesions, can still render a sheep lame.
Scald is actually an early form of foot-rot, and it’s caused by the bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus. It enters the animal’s body through breakages in skin. These could be cuts, just like scratches from thorns, rough pastures and thistles.
It’s likelier to happen when ewes are with lambs.
Spraying individual sheep with an antibiotic spray will get rid of scald quite well. However, very serious cases of scald that have spread throughout the flock may require antibiotic injections paired with the spray.
Footbaths might also be necessary, and once they’re clean, a fresh pasture should be used.
Regular footbaths might actually stop scald from affecting your sheep. Good hygiene will also prevent scald, so lambs in particular shouldn’t be kept on areas with lots of faecal matter.
Since foot-rot is a more serious phase of scald, it’s characterised by similar symptoms. However, foot-rot will almost always have a very strong odour with lots of grey discharge coming from the hoof. There may also be a slight separation of the hoof horn in the inter-digital area.
Foot-rot is more likely to occur in spring and autumn when there’s high rain in mild temperatures.
Antibiotic injections are a must, so visit your vet as soon as possible when you think you might have foot-rot in your flock. Pair it with the antibiotic spray, just like you do for regular scald. Keep infected sheep away from other animals.
It’s recommended that you don’t breed replacements from sheep that have been recorded as having foot-rot and scald often in the past. Vaccinate before housing periods to stop the bacteria from getting a hold of your sheep.
It’s also recommended that you keep new sheep away from the rest of the flock for their first 28 days on the farm, and give them a foot-bath as soon as they arrive.