Foot Rot Control --Sheep Update
Livestock Update, July 2002
Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Sheep, Virginia Tech
Foot rot is a contagious disease of sheep that has the potential to cause significant economic loss through reduced production. Prevention of the disease is enhanced by routine foot trimming and foot soak. New sheep that are brought into the flock (including new rams), should be isolated prior to introduction. When an outbreak occurs, eradication of foot rot is best accomplished through intense treatment. Waiting until a large percentage of the flock is infected will increase the challenge of effectively eliminating the disease. A combination of intense foot trimming and footbaths are the cheapest form of treatment. If foot rot has been diagnosed, all sheep in the flock should be treated. When trimming feet, all affected tissue should be trimmed away to reduce the areas in the hoof where the bacteria thrive. After trimming, sheep should be allowed to stand in a footbath for a minimum of 30 minutes. The most common footbath solution is zinc sulfate (10% solution = 16 pounds in 20 gallons of water). To aid in getting the zinc sulfate into solution, warm water may be used. A footbath may be constructed out of a sheet of plywood and 2x6 inch boards to form the sides. Seal the seams with caulking. If possible, sheep that do not show signs of foot rot should be moved to clean pastures after treatment. Infected sheep should be isolated and kept in a dry-lot for continued treatment every 3-5 days. Foot rot vaccines have also shown to be effective in treatment when used with other control measures. For more information, see Virginia Cooperative Extension Pub. No. 410-028: Control, Treatment, and Elimination of Foot Rot from Sheep.