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Sheep producers urged to be aware of Footrot risk

Central Tablelands Local Land Services has warned sheep producers to insist on an Animal Health Statement when purchasing or agisting sheep or goats, following reported cases of footrot in central western NSW.

The unusually wet conditions currently being experienced in many areas increases the risk of expression and spread of the disease.

“Reports have emerged in areas that have not seen this notifiable disease in decades, so sheep producers need to be alert,” said Dr Amy Masters, Central Tablelands Local Land Services District Veterinarian.

“Soil temperatures are starting to warm up and frequent rain is creating lush pastures that retain a high moisture content, creating ideal conditions for footrot to spread.”

Dr Masters says up to a dozen suspected traces of footrot are currently being investigated on the Central Tablelands.

“Although the results are still to be confirmed, given the recent reports of footrot in the Central West, it’s probably only a matter of time before we see a higher prevalence of footrot showing up on the Central Tablelands.”

All producers are encouraged to be vigilant, and are advised to only bring stock onto their properties from reputable sources. Stock health statements should be requested and carefully examined before stock movements occur to avoid the introduction of disease.

Footrot is debilitating for stock and it is expensive and labour intensive to eradicate. Producers are advised to isolate newly introduced sheep, and to ensure they are healthy with no signs of lameness, before allowing contact with other animals on the property.

Properties that are diagnosed with footrot are quarantined and a plan is implemented to eradicate the disease. Treatment options including destocking or treating the mob with foot baths, foot paring and regular inspection until the disease is eradicated.

Signs of footrot include lame sheep, inflammation between the digits and underrunning of the sole and heel. In severe cases sheep will lie down, walk on their knees and lose weight.

“Determining the cause of lameness can be difficult without a thorough veterinary examination, so it is prudent to contact your local vet for advice if symptoms occur,” said Dr Masters.

“If you have any concerns about lameness, it’s wise to investigate before footrot has a chance to spread to the rest of your flock.”

Virulent footrot is notifiable under the Stock Diseases Act 1923.  Any landholder, land manager, agent or vet who suspects that footrot is present in a mob is legally obliged to notify a District Veterinarian as soon as possible.

Producers should also ensure fences are in good condition to keep stray stock out. If you witness lame sheep or any other signs of footrot, call your nearest Local Land Services District Veterinarian.

For more information contact Dr Amy Masters on phone: 0428 710 002 or amy.masters@lls.nsw.gov.au

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439 608370