With spring now here, sheep producers are urged to check their flocks for any signs of lameness and to have lame sheep tested for footrot.
Department of Agriculture and Food Footrot Manager Kirsty Moynihan said as temperatures increase during spring and summer, the bacteria that cause virulent footrot inflame the moist inter-digital skin of the feet, which can cause sheep to become lame.
“Early detection of virulent footrot will help reduce the spread of infection within and between flocks and make it easier to control or eradicate,” she said.
“Farmers should check lame sheep thoroughly and have samples laboratory tested to rule out the possibility of virulent footrot.
“To check for footrot, tip lame sheep over and examine their feet. Signs include a loss of hair, reddening and moisture between the toes. Often more than one foot is affected.”
Dr Moynihan said producers could reduce the risk of introducing virulent footrot to their flocks by carrying out simple biosecurity measures.
“Producers are advised to buy from properties with a known health status, buy single lines from as few properties as possible, inspect the feet of animals before purchase, and ask for a National Sheep Health Statement to reduce the risk of bringing virulent footrot onto their properties,” she said.
“Also ensure that fencing is adequate to prevent stray stock entering.
“Producers should also isolate bought and returning agisted sheep from existing stock, and inspect introduced sheep for signs of footrot in the spring.”
Dr Moynihan said the estimated prevalence of infected flocks remains at less than one per cent of the state’s flock.
“During the 2013/14 footrot season, DAFWA officers inspected more than 318,000 sheep for signs of footrot at abattoirs under the industry-funded Footrot Control program,” she said.
For more information on footrot, contact your local department biosecurity officer or visit agric.wa.gov.au and search on ‘footrot’.