Control foot rot and say good-bye to routine trimming
Eblex and Grassland Challenge have recently hosted a series
of workshops in Devon and Cornwall for farmers, to discuss
the latest developments on the subject of resistance and control
of worms and foot rot in sheep.
In the UK, there is a general emphasis on the treatment
rather than prevention of internal parasites and foot rot.
At the evening workshops, Gert Nieuwhof, Senior Geneticist
at MLC discussed the progress of selection for disease resistance.
We know selection for production works so why not with diseases
such as worms or foot rot? In New Zealand a selection experiment
has been conducted since 1979 actively selecting sheep with
low FEC (Faecal Egg Count) breeding values. The resulting
resistance to internal parasites has varied depending on the
age of the lambs. At 6 months, resistant lambs have been found
to have up to 50% greater immunity than susceptible ones.
Although as expected, by 14 months the benefit was reduced
to only 20% as natural immunity increases as lambs are exposed
to internal parasites.
Also in NZ, a programme of continued culling of animals
with foot rot from progeny from a single Corriedale ram since
1967 has indicated more than 15% less infection than the control
groups. Eblex has recently set-up the 'Foot Rot Genetics
Project', a 3-year project with SAC, Roslin, Lincoln
University, MLC, University of Melbourne and GB breeders.
The aim of the project is to find genetic markers for resistance
to foot rot. Farmers attending the workshops were asked if
they would like to take part in the project.
Roger Brown and Paul Williams from Schering Plough Animal
Health stressed that with lameness costing an estimated extra
£6.50 per ewe per year (lower lambing percentage, increased
treatment and replacement rate), prevention is better than
cure. The correct diagnosis of lameness is vital to obtain
optimum control. Treatment of individual sheep will never
control foot rot in a flock because each sheep will be at
a different stage of the disease and although not lame they
may be harbouring infection. The farmers were told that they
must develop a coordinated whole flock approach incorporating
foot-bathing, trimming when necessary (it is no longer considered
good practice to routinely trim sheep feet), use of antibiotics
and /or vaccination into a 6-8 week programme. The fact that
bacteria causing foot rot only survives on pasture for up
to 10 days gives the whole flock approach a good opportunity
But how much of your flock needs to be affected to make
different control methods cost effective? Peter Morris, deputy
chief executive, NSA, introduced a new practical tool for
producers which will calculate the risk and cost implications
of foot rot and scald. The calculator has three input and
three output sections. The input sections are: farm details
covering flock size; lambing percentage and information on
lambs sold; the severity of foot rot and scald in the flock;
details of the control method chosen such as vaccination,
foot bathing and antibiotics. The output sections show: costs
and impacts before control; cost and impact after control
and final disease cost values. This calculator is currently
being developed and tested with farmers.
Rams with increased resistance to worms do exist and can
save money and labour. With further research into breeding,
we may be able to select for foot rot resistance in the same
way. In the meantime farmers will be able to use developments
such as the calculator tool to choose the best whole flock
approach to reduce foot rot and scald and say goodbye to routine
Grassland Challenge, in partnership with Cornwall Quality
Livestock Producers (CQLP) and Eblex, are hosting a free seminar
to discuss the opportunities following the changes to the
Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS) on Tuesday 13 December 2005
at the Crossroads Lodge, Scorrier, Redruth.
Peter Bayliss, general manager CQLP, will discuss the market
for older beef in light of the restructuring of the Over Thirty
Months Scheme including farm assurance requirements, demand
and outlets. He will also discuss the buyer's view,
outlining the requirements of the abattoir sector for cows.
Nik Bertholdt, Duchy College, will consider the nutritional
requirements and the economics of finishing cows to achieve
market requirements. The seminar will end with an open discussion
with the panel.
Anyone interested in attending this free event, should contact
Grassland Challenge on (01579) 372295 as numbers are limited.
Bookings will operate on a first come, first served basis
and a buffet supper will be provided.
For further information please contact Kate Allingham on
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Grassland Challenge Project
through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund
Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and
land based industries project is advised to speak with Maria
Ford, at Government Office South West - 01752 635015 - before
commencing development as there are now only limited funds
available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural
sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439