Lameness in sheep: the five-point plan – vaccinate

Learn about how and when to vaccinate sheep against lameness diseases.

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Vaccinate – establish immunity

There is a licensed vaccine available, which can be used to treat and prevent footrot. For best results: 

  • Complete a whole-flock vaccination programme (including rams) 
  • Time the vaccination to coincide with high-risk times on the farm
  • Common times to vaccinate are at housing or after shearing. discuss with your vet
  • Vaccination protocols can differ depending on the challenge: discuss with your vet

How long is the vaccine protective for?

The vaccine is protective for 4–6 months and can be given annually, but biannual vaccination may give the best results.  It offers partial protection against footrot and on average, reduces the chances of a sheep becoming lame by 20%. For a flock with 5% lameness, vaccination would reduce this to 4%.

  • Read the product data sheet very carefully before using the vaccine
  • Wear gloves when vaccinating and use a safety vaccinator to avoid self-injection (the vaccine is hazardous to humans)
  • Sheep that have, or will be given footrot vaccine, should not receive 1% moxidectin. Discuss in more detail with your vet

Where lesions are not obvious

  • Check for thorns, mud, skin damage between toes or granulomas Ideally treat without hoof-trimming
  • Check for lesions. If diagnosis is not possible, carefully trim away the horn. Do not cause bleeding
  • Feel for heat in the joints or feet – this indicates infection. 
  • A foot abscess may need careful paring of the hoof horn to drain pus. Always give an antibiotic

Useful links

Diseases that cause lameness in sheep

Reducing lameness in sheep