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LAMENESS in sheep is a worldwide problem and a study by Kaler and Green (2008) reported a farmer-estimated prevalence of 10.4 per cent for all types of lameness in England in 2004. Any control measures that reduce the prevalence of lameness are welcome and will inevitably improve the health and welfare of the sheep population, which, in the UK, was approximately 31 million ewes and lambs in June 2011.
In a paper summarised on p 606 of this week's Veterinary Record, Duncan and others (2011) investigate the recovery rates of contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) following parenteral administration of amoxicillin in fattening lambs.
This severe form of lameness, which was first reported in 1997 (Harwood and others 1997), may lead to complete separation of the hoof horn following an initial lesion on the coronary band (Davies and others 1999). This is in contrast with footrot in which, typically, there is initial inflammation of the interdigital skin leading to separation of horn at the skin/horn junction towards the posterior part of the interdigital cleft. Separation may then spread across the sole and abaxial wall resulting in detachment of most of the horn capsule (Winter 2004a).
The clinical appearance of CODD is sufficiently distinct to distinguish the condition from other common forms of lameness in sheep. Using written descriptions and pictures of the feet of sheep with typical CODD and other foot diseases, Kaler and Green (2008) showed that 94 per cent of a group of 47 sheep specialists …