Foot bathing sheep – the protocols to follow

According to the main advisory and research organisations in the UK and Ireland, foot bathing is the most effective way of treating scald and footrot on a flock basis. But is only successful if all the sheep’s feet remain in the foot bath chemical for the recommended length of time

The following regime is advised:

  • Sheep should stand on a hard surface prior to foot bathing to help remove as much dirt as possible.
  • Sheep should then be run through a water bath prior to foot bathing to clean the feet prior to treatment.
  • Make up the foot bath as required, allowing the sheep to stand in the solution for the period specified by the manufacturer of the active chemical.
  • After foot bathing allow sheep to stand on a dry, clean surface for up to an hour.
  • Turn out onto a fresh dry pasture, so that the foot bath chemical is not immediately washed off the feet by wet herbage. The pasture should have had no sheep for the previous 2 weeks.
  • Dispose of the contents of the foot bath carefully, well away from a watercourse to avoid pollution, and meeting all current regulations relating to dip disposal.

As a routine, on all lowland farms, aim to foot bath five times per year. If footrot is a serious problem much more regular foot bathing will be essential. Many farms find it necessary to foot bath once a week during an outbreak or a prolonged period of housing.