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FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan For Tackling Sheep Lameness

A team of scientists, consultants and producers at FAI Farms has developed a management programme proven to control lameness in sheep.

The Issue

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Dr Ruth Clements

Dr Ruth Clements, FAI veterinary surgeon, led FAI’s scientific team in a collaborative project with forward thinking producers and the industry.

Lameness is a major animal welfare and economic challenge across the sheep sector, costing £24 million to the industry. Within the UK, an estimated 3 million sheep are lame at any one time, the most common causes of the condition are the infectious bacterial diseases footrot and scald.



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The Plan

The Five Point Plan was developed by drawing together existing science on sheep lameness and practical experience from farmers who had achieved and sustained low levels of lameness. The 5 Point Plan has five action points that support the animal in three different ways: building resilience, reducing disease challenge and establishing immunity.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Cull

Step
Cull badly or repeatedly affected animals

Relevance
By removing worst offenders, flock resilience to disease is increased. Ewes with chronic misshapen feet likely to be a source of infection.

Implementation
Ewes treated more than once for foot-rot or scald should be cull tagged. “Two strikes and you’re out” policy. Cull ewes with misshapen chronic feet.
FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Quarantine

Step
Cull badly or repeatedly affected animals

Relevance
Minimising overall disease challenge for incoming and existing animals, allowing time for inclusion to a vaccination and management programme.

Implementation
Develop robust quarantine procedure to protect both existing ewes and the newcomers.
FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Cull

Step
Cull badly or repeatedly affected animals

Relevance
Minimising overall disease challenge for incoming and existing animals, allowing time for inclusion to a vaccination and management programme.

Implementation
Develop robust quarantine procedure to protect both existing ewes and newcomers.
FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Avoid

Step
Avoid propagation of infection on farm

Relevance
Reduce the opportunities for the disease to spread from sheep to sheep via the ground, periods of close contact are high risk.

Implementation
Identify opportunities for improvement in underfoot conditions, both in the field/barn and in the handling set up and frequency.
FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan - Vaccinate Step
Vaccinate biannually

Relevance
Build immunity in breeding stock, vaccination gives additional protection at high risk times.

Implementation
Initially vaccinate all breeding stock biannually, timing doses to coincide with high-risk times such as housing and late summer
FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan

Locomotion Scoring- assessing lameness

A simple six point locomotion score can be used to measure lameness in flocks. Ewes scoring one or greater are considered lame.

FAI Sheep - The Five Point Plan

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