Associations between farmer types and footrot levels

Authors: O’Kane, Holly, Ferguson, Eamonn, Kaler, Jasmeet and Green, Laura E. (2017)

Summary written by Naomi Prosser.

The results below come from part of a questionnaire on sheep lameness that was sent out in 2013. The results focus on how approaches to manage footrot and farmer’s beliefs and personality are linked to levels of lameness.

The average level of lameness was approximately 3.7%. There was a range of methods used to manage footrot that could be put into three groups. These are listed in the table below. Treating individual sheep within three days of becoming lame was the most important factor for the lowest levels of lameness.

Lameness managementsAverage level of lamenessPercentage of farmers using the managements
Best practiceTreat footrot within three days
Use both injectable and topical antibiotics to treat scald and footrot
Do not trim feet
Slow to treatTake longer than three days to treat lame sheep
Less likely to use both injectable and topical antibiotics
More likely to trim feet
Still using traditional methodsTake much longer than three days to treat lame sheep
Only cull sheep when persistently lame
Unlikely to use injectable antibiotics to treat scald and footrot
Likely to still trim feet

Low levels of lameness were associated with:

  • Knowledge of how footrot is transmitted and the importance of reducing itsspread
  • Knowledge that foot bathing and foot trimming contribute to high levels oflameness and the spread of footrot
  • Farmers who considered themselves conscientious

High levels of lameness were associated with:

  • Not treating lame sheep during some stages of the production cycle e.g. late pregnancy
  • Sometimes delaying treatment during the rest of the year because of lack of time
  • Belief that foot trimming and footbathing are effective to control footrot
  • Farmers who said they were angry, frustrated or felt miserable about the level of lameness in their flock

Thank you to those who participated in this survey; it was a long questionnaire! We are very grateful for your continued support of work into lameness in sheep and hope that the results are of use to you. This is the first study to look at farmers’ attitudes, beliefs and personality and levels of lameness. Ultimately this will help us to explain our results and why some managements are more effective than others more clearly to different types of farmers.

The original research can be found using the link below:

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