The issue of antibiotics versus trimming as a means of controlling lameness in sheep is often debated, so a new trial at Marrick Abbey Farm in North Yorkshire, aims to shed light on the best approach.
Every sheep farm experiences the issue of lameness and the serious impact it can have on productivity. The Bainbridge brothers at Marrick Abbey Farm in Richmond have kindly agreed to share their typical experiences by allowing any lame ewes in their flock to undergo a trial, run with the help of SAC Consulting: for six weeks, half of the ewes will be treated with antiobiotics and have their feet trimmed, while the other half will receive only antibiotics.
SAC Consulting Agricultural Consultant James Hadwin explained: “There has been a good deal of research into treating lameness and the advice is not to trim – recovery is quicker and better if ewes are treated with injectable antibiotics only. We expect the trial at Marrick Farm to demonstrate this and we hope local farmers will be interested in the results.”
Local farmers will have a good opportunity to find out about the trial because Marrick is one of 19 EBLEX ‘focus farms’ involved in a 12 month campaign addressing cattle and sheep health and welfare issues. The aim is to improve outputs and profitability. Partner organisations around England are working with EBLEX to support their local focus farms. A series of free events for farmers will be held on each farm over the next nine months. SAC Consulting working is co-ordinating the north of England focus farms: Marrick Abbey, Spiral Farm, Kendal; Scriddles Farm at Grindleton nearr Clitheroe; and Lemmington Hill Head, Edlingham, Northumberland.
This first meeting at Marrick Abbey takes place Wednesday 6 August from 4pm to 8pm. In addition to a practical session on lameness, which includes information about the new trimming/antibiotics trial, the issues of flock biosecurity, returning wintering stock and flock fertility will be up for discussion. James Hadwin will provide an overview of the focus farm concept and Marrick Abbey Farm, while the Bainbridge’s vet Richard Phillips of Swale Veterinary Practice will lead the lameness session.