Farms in Lock Down as Footrot Strikes

  • fcush01
  • August 30, 2016
  • Rural

By Floyd Cush

15 farms in the Central West have been quarantined after the potentially devastating virulent footrot disease has been detected. It’s come as a shock to NSW Local Land Services, as it’s the first time in more than 30 years the disease has been detected North-West of Dubbo. Farmers are being urged to check their flocks for any sign of the disease, especially with wet weather forecast over the next few days, making sheep especially susceptible.

Local Land Services District Veterinarian Jillian Kelly says the main areas affected are Coonamble, Warren, Narromine, Nyngan and Gilgandra. “The disease can devastate a flock, and comes at a huge economic cost to graziers” Dr Kelly said.

District Veterinarians and Biosecurity staff have acted quickly in an attempt to stop the disease spreading. They’re working with graziers to eradicate the disease promptly, using methods including destocking, foot bathing and paring. “We’re investigating all causes of lame sheep and we want to get out on as many farms as possible and just check. Unfortunately the disease is quarantinable, but it’s quarantinable for a reason – we don’t want it to spread, we want to sort it out” Dr Kelly said.

NSW Local Land Services advise the signs of footrot can include lame sheep, inflammation between the digits, and underrunning of the sole and heel of the foot.

“With the wet weather we’ve had a lot of reports of lame sheep and some of them are foot abscess, and some of them are benign footrot, but then we are finding that some really are this nasty virulent footrot.”

NSW is a footrot protected state, meaning the prevalence of the disease state-wide is less than one percent.

Dr Kelly advises graziers who suspect an issue with their flock to ring their vet. “Get them to come and have a look, and just be really careful when you’re buying sheep, make sure they’re healthy and if they arrive on your farm and they’re lame, ring somebody. Don’t just let them out in the paddock to mix with other stock.”

In severe cases virulent footrot can cause sheep to lose weight, lie down and walk on their knees.

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