Dealing with scald issues on farms

Lameness problems on sheep farmers are never-ending, whether it be a lame ewe or lamb. Lately, a number of issues relating to scald in lambs have been cropping up.

Lameness issues will impact on performance and already, cases of scald in lambs are becoming an issue on farms and will be the case more than likely as the season progresses.

Scald issues in lambs typically occur when underfoot conditions are wet/moist like we are seeing now, as well as when grass is long and ‘spiky’ – which isn’t much of an issue at the moment but will be later in the season – and areas in the field where sheep congregate, e.g. where feeders are located, can also increase incidences.

Scald in lambs is generally seen when the skin between the hooves of the lambs becomes red and swollen – which is caused by a bacteria in the environment and is why we see it happen annually.

It can spread rapidly, be it either in warm or wet conditions, and if not treated, what initially started as only one or two cases, can lead to huge incidences across the flock.

Treating scald

Early intervention is key when dealing with scald issues within the flock.

Where cases are small and only a few lambs are lame within a flock, an antibiotic spray tends to be used by farmers to treat against scald. Although, if the number of lame lambs increases, it can become a very labour-intensive task to carry out to treat a large number of lambs individually.

Therefore, footbathing the whole flock would be the best approach when dealing with scald.

A zinc or copper sulphate solution is recommended while letting sheep stand in the solution for two to three minutes is a must before turning out to a clean and dry concrete yard for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the solution to dry into the hoof.

After standing in the solution, turning sheep out to a wet and dirty yard or even back out to a muddy field, is a waste of time.

If you don’t get control of scald on your farm, it can lead to footrot, so early intervention is key.

Over the coming weeks, if lameness issues are cropping up, anytime the flock is gathered and brought into the yard for dosing or drafting, they should be run through a footbath.