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Footrot and interdigital dermatitis in sheep: farmers’ practices, opinions and attitudes
  1. G. J. Wassink, PhD, Ir1,
  2. L. J. Moore, BSc, PhD2,
  3. R. Grogono-Thomas, BVetMed, BSc, MSc, PhD, CertSHP2 and
  4. L. E. Green, BVSc, MSc PhD, MRCVS1
  1. 1Ecology and Epidemiology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL
  2. 2Division of Animal Health and Husbandry, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU

Abstract

In 1999, a study was initiated to improve the treatment and control of footrot and interdigital dermatitis in sheep flocks in England and Wales. In November 2000, a retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted in which 392 sheep farmers were asked to estimate the prevalence of footrot and interdigital dermatitis in their flock in the previous 12 months, whether they considered these diseases to be a problem, how they treated and controlled them and their opinion on the success of the treatment and control measures that they used; 209 of them provided usable responses. The farmers tended to be more concerned as the prevalence of the diseases increased; 91 per cent of the farmers with a prevalence of footrot of less than 5 per cent considered it a small or very small problem on their farm, but 51 per cent of the farmers with a prevalence of 5 per cent or more also considered it to be a small or very small problem. Approximately 60 per cent of the farmers who used parenteral antibiotics considered that they were good or excellent at treating footrot, and this treatment was associated with a prevalence of less than 5 per cent. A similar proportion of farmers also considered topical foot sprays and footbathing to be good or excellent for controlling footrot or interdigital dermatitis, but these treatments were not associated with a lower prevalence of footrot or interdigital dermatitis. Of the 29 farmers who used a footrot vaccine, 20 (69 per cent) considered it good to excellent and this was associated with a prevalence of footrot of less than 5 per cent in their flock; however, vaccination was not associated with lower levels of footrot across the whole sample. Farmers spent approximately 34 minutes per sheep per year treating and controlling footrot; 31 per cent were prepared to spend more money and more time to manage footrot, 27 per cent were prepared to spend more time, 19 per cent were prepared to spend more money and 23 per cent were not prepared to do either. The farmers who were willing to invest more money or more money and time had a higher prevalence of footrot.

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