Implementing The 5 Point Plan To Tackle Sheep Lameness

Lameness is a major animal welfare and economic challenge across the sheep sector, costing the UK industry alone an estimated £24 million a year. The most common cause of lameness in UK sheep flocks are footrot and scald, two infectious bacterial diseases. With an estimated 3 million sheep being lame at any one time FAI developed the Five Point Plan to help the industry meet the challenge of reducing lameness.

The Five Point Plan was developed by drawing together existing science on sheep lameness and practical experience from farmers who had achieved and sustained low levels of lameness. It consists of five action points that support the animal in three different ways: building resilience, reducing disease challenge and establishing immunity (Figure 1, Table 1).

5 Point Plan To Tackle Sheep Lameness

© 2014 FAI Farms

Lameness is a major animal welfare and economic challenge across the sheep sector, costing £24 million to the industry. Within the UK, an estimated 3 million sheep are lame at any one time, the most common causes of the condition are the infectious bacterial diseases footrot and scald.

The Plan

The Five Point Plan was developed by drawing together existing science on sheep lameness
and practical experience from farmers who had achieved and sustained low levels of
lameness. The 5 Point Plan has five action points that support the animal in three different
ways: building resilience, reducing disease challenge and establishing immunity.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Cull

Step
Cull badly or repeatedly affected animals

Relevance
By removing worst offenders, flock resilience to disease is increased.
Ewes with chronic misshapen feet likely to be a source of infection.

Implementation
Ewes treated more than once for foot-rot or scald should be cull tagged.
“Two strikes and you’re out” policy. Cull ewes with misshapen chronic
feet.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Quarantine

Step
Cull badly or repeatedly affected animals

Relevance
Minimising overall disease challenge for incoming and existing animals,
allowing time for inclusion to a vaccination and management
programme.

Implementation
Develop robust quarantine procedure to protect both existing ewes and the newcomers.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Treat

Step
Cull badly or repeatedly affected animals

Relevance
Minimising overall disease challenge for incoming and existing animals,
allowing time for inclusion to a vaccination and management
programme.

Implementation
Develop robust quarantine procedure to protect both existing ewes and newcomers.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Avoid

Step
Avoid propagation of infection on farm

Relevance
Reduce the opportunities for the disease to spread from sheep to sheep
via the ground, periods of close contact are high risk.

Implementation
Identify opportunities for improvement in underfoot conditions, both in the field/barn and in the handling set up and frequency.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Vaccinate

Step
Vaccinate biannually

Relevance
Build immunity in breeding stock, vaccination gives additional
protection at high risk times.

Implementation
Initially vaccinate all breeding stock biannually, timing doses to coincide with high-risk times such as housing and late summer

 

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan

Locomotion Scoring- assessing lameness

A simple six point locomotion score can be used to measure lameness in flocks. Ewes
scoring one or greater are considered lame.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan

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