Mud and Foot Rot

Winter comes and sometimes brings us snow, ice, and cold. But the sun always comes out, the temperatures get warmer, and the mud arrives.

I do not like mud. Mud can cause a health problem for the sheep called foot scald and foot rot. Both are the results of bacterial infections in the hoof of the sheep.

Foot scald is caused by the bacterium Fusobateruim necrophorum, it is found in the feces of ruminants. A sheep with foot scald will limp, carry the foot. The foot will be swollen and hot at the hair line where the skin and hoof wall meet. Treatment is to clean the foot with a disinfectant such as 7% iodine and move the sheep to a dry clean area free of manure. It is best to separate the lame sheep from the healthy sheep to prevent spreading of the bacteria in the mud and soil.

Foot rot is more severe. Foot scald can become foot rot if the shepherd does not treat the sheep at the first sign of lameness. Foot rot is also caused by another bacterium, Dichelobacterium nodosus. Foot rot requires a more aggressive treatment with copper sulfate or zinc sulfate foot bathes or soaks, sometimes antibiotics. Foot rot is the bacteria infection is so severe the hoof wall and sole of the hoof are being destroyed.

Preventive care helps to avoid these two laming health risks. A clean place for the sheep to stand and bed down that is dry. Cleaning pens and shelters of manure is important hygiene for the sheep.

I am not a veterinarian. I have used 7% iodine to treat foot scald and foot rot, as well as copper sulfate after discussion with my veterinarian. I work hard at preventive of health problems with my sheep. I clean pens and shelters several times a year. Before storms, I place down fresh bedding.

Any medical treatment for your animals should be discussed with a licensed veterinarian.


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