07 July 2015 | Online since 2003

Study highlights potential to reduce long term antibiotic usage for sheep lameness



23 July 2014 15:17:02|News,Sheep,Veterinary News

Study highlights potential to reduce long term antibiotic usage for sheep lameness


Sheep farmers could reduce antibiotic treatments for lameness by as much as 92% within two years of implementing the practical FAI Farms Five-Point Plan to control the disease within a flock.

A Veterinary Record report describes how Oxfordshire-based FAI Farms managed to cut substantially the number of lameness treatments administered to their flock of 1,200 ewes over a four-year period.

“Before we implemented the Five-Point Plan our mean number of monthly antibiotic treatments was 3.8 per 100 ewes. During the first year this was reduced to 1.4 treatments per 100 ewes per month, and during years 2-4 was sustained at less than 0.3 treatments per 100 ewes per month,” says Ruth Clements MRCVS from FAI Farms.

FAI Farms managed to reduce flock lameness from an average annual prevalence of 7.4% to only 2.6% within a year of implementing the plan. Lameness levels were then maintained at less than 1% for the next three years.

Followed thoroughly and consistently year-on-year, the Five-Point Plan builds a flock’s resilience to the diseases that cause lameness, reduces the infection challenge on the farm and establishes sheep immunity.

The five points comprise: prompt and appropriate treatment of any lame sheep; vaccination bi-annually with FOOTVAXTM to reduce footrot lesions and build immunity; culling badly or repeatedly infected sheep; quarantining incoming animals; and avoiding spreading infection when sheep are gathered and handled.

“According to EBLEX, the estimated losses from footrot alone equate to around £6 a year for every ewe in Great Britain, but these are costs the industry does not have to bear. Our experience shows that you really can get on top of lameness problems and reap the flock performance and animal welfare benefits of an extremely low disease incidence level,” says Ms Clements.

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