by Mike Neary Extension Sheep Specialist Purdue University
Authors: W. Dee Whittier, Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Science, and Steven H. Umberger, Extension Animal Scientist, Sheep, Virginia Tech
by Dr. Douglas Tweedie-Regional Veterinarian -Animal Health Division
By Lisa Roskopf - Hawks Mountain Ranch - Gaston, OR
J. L. Goelz, D.V.M. International SheepLetter
by Helen A. Swartz, State Sheep, Goat and Small Livestock Specialist
G.L.M. Chappell - Sheep Production Handbook
With illustrations - Lambinators 4-H Website
Foot Disorders &
How to Trim Hooves
In foot rot, the horny wall of the digits may separate from the sensitive internal structures and the space becomes filled by dirt.
If your sheep are lame and on close inspection you see that the horn has separated from the wall of the foot and it smells rotten, the animal probably has foot rot.
If the infection is not stopped, it will invade the deeper tissues of the foot and may invade one or more joints, causing chronic arthritis.
Foot scald (or interdigital dermatitis)
Foot scald can occur when conditions are persistently wet underfoot, especially when the stocking density is high.
It causes marked lameness, it can develop very quickly and it can be so severe that the affected animal is reluctant to stand.
The skin between the toes can be either red and swollen, or blanched and white.
Sheep and goats are most commonly affected, but the condition can also occur in cattle and possibly other ruminants.
Affected feet don't stink like foot rot.
It is caused by a bacterium.
Animals can recover spontaneously if they are moved to drier pasture.
Foot abscesses develop between the digits or inside one of the digits.
There may be a swelling between the digits and/or the affected digit may be hot and very painful.
The abscesses are caused by bacterial infection, and they make animals very lame indeed.
Footvax® Footrot Vaccine
Manufactured by Schering-Plough
Ingredients - 10 strains of killed Bacteroides nodosus organisms suspended in a water-in-oil emulsion
Indications - to stimulate a strong immunological response for the protection from new footrot infection and treatment of infection already present.
Dosage and directions - Two 1 ml injections should be given six weeks aprt. The first is a primer and the second shot should be timed to correspond with the start of the footrot season. A booster should be given every six months. Combine with conventional treatment (regular hoof trimming, footbaths, culling etc). Vaccine should be given under the skin high up on the neck and just behind the year.
Ingredients - 37.5% Copper Naphthenate
Availability - over the counter
FDA approved use - As an aid in treating horses and ponies for thrush caused by organisms susceptible to copper naphthenate.
Route of administration - topical liquid
Dosage and directions - apply daily to affected hooves until fully healed.
Volar Footrot Bacterin
Indications - 61% to 88% reduction in clinical symptoms of footrot in sheep
Dosage and directions - Inject a 3 ml dose intramuscularly or subcutaneously in the neck area. Repeat in 3 to 4 weeks. A booster dose should be given annually or at any time endemic conditions exist or exposure is imminent.
Additional information - safe in pregnant ewes
36% Zink, 17.5% Sulfur
Indications - for use in footbaths as a preventative and treatment of footrot in sheep.
Dosage and directions - mix rate of 8 lbs. to 10 gallons water in footbath. Add one cup liquid laundry detergent
An untrimmed (left) and a properly trimmed (right) foot
Foot trimming is the first step in treating foot rot. Trimming the foot will cut away any cracked areas in the hoof and help to prevent the foot rot organism from becoming established. Sheep who have foot rot should be trimmed to remove all infected areas. It is extremely important to open up these areas so that the foot bath solution and air can reach the damaged areas. Unfortunately this may also cause some bleeding. Do not become alarmed at the sight of the blood. A small amount will help to cleanse the foot.
This page was last updated on: January 7, 2008