Ovine footrot commonly occurs following introduction of sheep carrying Dichelobacter nodosus to a previously uninfected flock (Whittington et al., 2016).
This can occur under several scenarios:
- purchase of sheep
- inadequate fencing, allowing sheep from neighbouring farms or stock routes to stray
- contact with infected sheep or infective material via shared use of contaminated paddocks, laneways, yards, sheds, or transport
Footrot can be prevented by observing common practices of on-farm biosecurity:
- take care when buying sheep
- require a vendor declaration
- inspect the feet of all sheep prior to purchase
- take care when sheep arrive on your farm
- inspect the feet of all sheep off the truck
- quarantine newly arrived sheep; ideally await suitable environmental conditions for footrot to emerge, and then inspect and clear them, before introducing them to paddocks containing other sheep
- maintain fencing to exclude stray livestock
- seek veterinary advice if lameness or foot lesions are observed; quarantined suspect mobs until the situation is properly investigated to minimised potential spread
Animal Health Australia provides comprehensive advice on biosecurity for sheep farmers:
“As a sheep farmer, the best way to protect yourself from biosecurity risks is to keep diseases, pests and weeds off your property. Always insist on a properly completed National Sheep Health Declaration and National Vendor Declaration when purchasing or agisting stock, offering sheep for sale, and when mandated by interstate movement requirements.”
The National Sheep Health Declaration (NSHD) form is completed by a vendor of sheep to indicate whether or not “All consigned sheep are from a flock that is free of virulent footrot and “all consigned sheep are from a flock that is free of benign footrot or scald”
The NSHD is mandatory for all sheep movements in South Australia and for sheep being moved into New South Wales and Tasmania. It is voluntary in other states.
The National Vendor Declaration is under migration to an electronic platform.
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Important disclaimer: The advice contained on this website is of a general nature. Please consult your veterinarian or government district veterinarian, animal health or biosecurity officer for an accurate diagnosis if you suspect footrot, and for specific advice on the best course of action to prevent, control and eradicate footrot.