Vets flag lameness as key concern with sheep and cattle

Vets flag lameness as key concern with sheep and cattle

Survey bids to identify welfare priorities

Lameness and endemic infectious disease remain the most troubling problems affecting cattle and sheep production and wellbeing, a survey has revealed.

The Ruminant Health and Welfare poll, carried out last November and December, aimed to establish the disease, health and welfare priorities of those working with cattle and sheep.

Foot-rot and contagious ovine digital dermatitis (Codd) were the most concerning sheep diseases, while digital dermatitis, bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) and Johne’s scored highly for cattle.
More than 600 vets and farmers gave their opinions for the survey.

Nigel Miller, chair of RH&W, said: “Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis [IBR] and BVD rank highly, even though extreme IBR outbreaks appear to be less common and the threat of BVD has subsided due to eradication progress across the four nations.

‘Proactive approach’
“The priority status of viral pneumonia is interesting and pinpoints a recurring threat on many holdings. At a time when vaccination programmes are at the centre of the health management debate this may increase interest in that proactive approach.”

Regarding sheep, he added: “Perhaps it is not surprising that foot rot scores so highly; no one can doubt the corrosive impact on body condition and welfare.

“There is also the indirect ripple effect, which threatens the performance and, at times, the survival of lambs from affected ewes.

“These results are some of the first that truly take into account those at the coalface of farming, who deal with these diseases and conditions on a daily basis.”

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