Keeping animals feet right – a priority for Co Antrim flockowner

Edward Adamson from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim, runs a flock of 600 breeding sheep which includes 50 Ile de France, 200 Lleyn, 50 Clun Forest and 50 Easycare ewes

“The Ile de France sheep lamb in January with the remainder of the flock lambing in the spring,” he said.

“Keeping the animals’ feet right is an absolute priority. But the management focus has got to be on preventing the problem from occurring in the first place, rather than treating ewes and lambs that have already succumbed to foot rot or some other form of lameness.”

It is for this reason that Edward regularly runs the sheep through a footbath on those occasions when the ewes and lambs are gathered for a certain aspect of flock management.

“This was the case at the beginning of June when the lambs got their first nematodirus treatment,” he said.

“It was a very simple matter to run the sheep through the bath at that stage,” he said.

Edward traditionally uses Hoofsure Endurance as the active agent in the foot bath solution.

A few years ago scald and foot rot were a big problem within the Adamson flock but after an intensive footbathing blitz, antibiotic injection and – ultimately culling – the problem was brought under control.

He footbaths the sheep in the higher 2% dilution rate, 1:50 – that’s 2 litres of Hoofsure added to 98 litres of water, or 2 pints to 10 gallons. The normal rate is 1% i.e.1 litre to 99 litres, or 1 pint to 20 gallons. Edward also uses a sponge mat in the bottom of the footbath so that there is less splashing and waste. Therefore he can get more sheep through the same footbath mix. If the feet are dirty he will run them through a second time.

After this they are returned to grass that has not been grazed for two weeks. This routine is repeated as necessary. The main approach that Edward would take to foot problems is ‘do not ignore it’.

Adamson would summarise the benefits of Hoofsure Endurance as follows:

“It seems to do the job for us and we can control lameness provided we keep on top of it.”

Edward has also used Provita’s Combat foot spray to treat specific incidences of lameness. This allows him to pay particular attention to those sheep that need a little bit of extra priority, where feet problems are concerned.