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Buyer Beware: Footrot on the rise

A rise in confirmed footrot infections in sheep on the Central Tablelands has prompted a warning to farmers to be extra diligent when buying in sheep.

“There has been an increase in the number of diagnosed footrot infections on the Central Tablelands, as well as in neighbouring regions such as the Central West,” said Central Tablelands Local Land Services Regional Veterinarian, Bruce Watt.

“Footrot has also been detected in saleyards in the region.

“That means there is a greater risk of a footrot infection spreading to your property if you buy in sheep or bring in stock on agistment without taking appropriate precautions.

“All landholders need to be aware of their personal responsibility to regularly assess the health of their stock, particularly if they are intending to trade.”

The key steps to avoid the spread of footrot to your property are to:

  • Inspect sheep physically before you buy them. Producers are urged to be particularly cautious when purchasing stock advertised online.
  • Request an animal health statement and check it carefully before finalising the purchase.
  • Quarantine new sheep purchases in paddocks that separate them from other stock on your property, ideally for at least 3 months before allowing them to mix with other flocks.
  • Past efforts to control footrot in NSW have been very effective according to Bruce Watt, and he’s urging farmers to help halt the current increase in footrot spread.

“Twenty years ago in the 1990s, we had a very high prevalence of footrot on the Central Tablelands with around 200 properties in quarantine,” said Bruce.

“However following a state wide campaign, infection rates were reduced substantially. By 2006 we had only 30 properties in quarantine, and just a few years ago in 2013 the incidence was as low as just seven properties quarantined.

“The very wet weather we had last year may have prompted a flare in footrot infection so it’s essential we work together to get on top of the problem.”

Farmers are also advised to keep fences in good condition to prevent stray sheep or goats from entering their property and infecting flocks.

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

NSW’s footrot protected status requires that the flock prevalence of virulent footrot in the state is kept below one per cent.

Virulent footrot is a notifiable disease under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015. Any landholder, land manager, agent or veterinarian who suspects that footrot is present in a mob they have seen or have been consulted about is legally obliged to notify a Local Land Services District Veterinarian.

For more information email Bruce Watt at Central Tablelands Local Land Services or call 0428 935 559.


Media contact: Jane Hogan, Central Tablelands Local Land Services 0417 166 479 or 6333 2305