Question of the Week
The farm I just purchased previously struggled with foot rot within their sheep flock. How long will it take the foot rot organism to leave the ground?
Answer: Sheep foot rot is a disease in which two species of bacteria work together to infect the foot. One, the "trigger" bacteria, predisposes the foot tissue to infection by the other. The trigger bacteria is gone out of the environment after two weeks once the sheep are removed. In muddy environments, it would be better to wait three weeks. The actual bacteria that cause infection are ubiquitous in the soil.
Before you repopulate the property with more purchased ewes, make sure that the premises (lambing jugs, mix pens, handling equipment, stock trailer) is steam cleaned or scrubbed down with a disinfectant solution such as Novasan (chlorihexadene).
When purchasing more ewes, walk through the seller's flock and check for any sign of animals limping. Ask the seller if he or she has ever had any foot rot cases. Once purchased, it would be best to quarantine them for one month, checking their hooves once a week for any sign of infection.
For more information, consult the following resources:
Contagious Foot Rot, Utah State University Extension
Foot Rot in Sheep and Goats, Purdue Extension
You will also find lots of useful resources in the Livestock and Pasture portion of ATTRA’s website, located at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/livestock/.
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