Oxfordshire, Wales, Northumberland
“The majority of producers are likely to require implementation of all elements of the Five Point Plan to achieve sustained lameness reduction.”
Head Shepherd at FAI, Oxford
FAI worked with two other forward thinking farmers, Huw Davies at Llandre Farm in Wales and Graham Dixon at Alwinton Farm in Northumberland, as well as applying the programme to its FAI flock at near Oxford.
All three farms reported significant challenges with lameness, primarily due to footrot and scald, and were motivated to work at reducing levels. At FAI, they used a mobile handling system, reduced frequency of handling, vaccinated biannually and culled 4.2 per cent of ewes for lameness in year 1.
Each farm measured lameness monthly via the six point locomotion score.
Llandre Farm focused on prompt treatment and upgrading handling areas, and Alwinton Farm upgraded permanent handling facilities and implemented a strict cull and biannual vaccination programme.
All three farms achieved the target of less than 5% lameness within the first year (Figure 2). During the four-year period, the farms that maintained the commitment to all five points of the Five Point Plan and achieved lameness levels less than 1 per cent in years 2-4.
One farm culled less strictly and vaccinated annually instead of biannually, the result of which is reflected in the relatively higher lameness prevalence and within year variation (Figure 2).
This demonstrates that with difficult and intractable problems like sheep lameness, the majority of producers are likely to require implementation of all elements of the Five Point Plan to achieve sustained lameness reduction. However, the success of these farms implementing the Five Point Plan show that lameness reduction is achievable within a relatively short time scale, but does require long-term commitment in order to sustain success
FAI farm near Oxford
Graph showing the reduction of lameness prevalence
Drug Use Implications
As well as improving the animal’s welfare and having an economic benefit to the farmer, wide implementation of the Five Point Plan has the potential to substantially reduce the number of doses of antibiotics used against this disease in sheep.
This is particularly relevant as antibiotic resistance is an extremely important issue for all livestock species, and opportunities to reduce it should be taken.
Whilst the Five Point Plan was primarily designed to tackle lameness due to footrot and scald, the principles are likely to be relevant where there is infection with contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) within a flock, since this is also thought to be an infectious bacterial disease.
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