Drought helps sheep producers tackle footrot

A recent meeting of the NSW Footrot Steering Committee heard dry conditions were helping the State’s sheep producers tackle footrot.

Steering Committee chairman, James Maslin, Caragabal, today said the number of footrot quarantined flocks was down to just 119 flocks out of the State’s 23,819 flocks.

“This is great news which means that State-wide footrot flock prevalence is now below 0.5%,” Mr Maslin said.

“NSW is now looking at having the whole of State gazetted as a Protected Area by mid 2007.”

“The original objective of the NSW Footrot Strategic Plan was to improve the productivity and welfare of sheep and goats by the progressive eradication of virulent footrot by having the whole State progress to Protected Area status

“This will be a tremendous achievement considering in the early 1990s there were more than 6000 footrot infected flocks throughout NSW.”

NSW Farmers Association’s president and Footrot Steering Committee member, Jock Laurie, said the drought was hitting hard throughout the sheep areas of the State but there was still a commitment from the industry to work with Rural Lands Protection Boards to control footrot.

“There is no way sheep producers should be sustaining footrot sheep in a drought,” he said.

“Reductions in stock numbers associated with the drought should ensure all footrot suspect sheep are sent for slaughter.

“Retaining only healthy, core breeding stock will put producers in the best position when the drought finally breaks”.

The Footrot Steering Committee also warned producers that they should be aware of the risks of introducing sheep of unknown footrot status after the drought breaks.

Australian Sheep Veterinarians representative on the committee, John Plant, said the best way producers can protect themselves is to request a Footrot Vendor Declaration when buying sheep, especially for interstate sheep.

“There have been examples where producers have purchased sheep and later found they had a problem. The best way to ensure sheep are clean is to ask for a Vendor Declaration,” he said.

Don Wright from the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association supported and said agents were always willing to help producers seek appropriate background information when purchasing stock.

“Sheep introduced from Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania are required to be accompanied by a Vendor Declaration,” Mr Wright said.

The Footrot Vendor Declaration is available from the NSW Department of Primary Industries website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/reader/sheep-footrot/vendordecintro

Footrot disease

Footrot is a disease which causes lameness in sheep resulting in significant production losses and animal welfare concerns. In New South Wales producers with footrot infected flocks are required under legislation to undertake an approved eradication program to eliminate the disease.