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Sheep producers urged to be aware of footrot risk

Local Land Services Western Region has warned sheep and cattle farmers to insist on a National Sheep Health Statement or National Cattle Health Declaration when purchasing or agisting stock in response to an outbreak of footrot in sheep in the central west of NSW.

Last month, Local Land Services district veterinarians diagnosed virulent footrot in sheep in the Coonamble and Nyngan districts.

District Veterinarian Dr Charlotte Cavanagh said Local Land Services had taken immediate action to limit the spread of footrot and find its origins.

“It is likely that the increased prevalence of this disease is due to people buying in sheep with footrot and has been exacerbated by the prolonged wet weather,” Dr Cavanagh said.

“These areas have not seen the notifiable disease in decades and it may come as a nasty surprise to some graziers.

“District Veterinarians and biosecurity staff work hard to maintain the state’s footrot protected status, so when footrot is diagnosed, we take immediate action to limit its spread and trace the source.”

All producers are encouraged to be vigilant when trading sheep, cattle or goats and to ensure they are buying or agisting from reputable sources.

“Producers should also request and carefully examine the health statement or declaration before any stock arrives on their farm,” Dr Cavanagh said.

“It is a good idea to isolate newly introduced stock and ensure they are healthy, with no signs of lameness, before introducing them to the main mob.”

Properties diagnosed with footrot are quarantined and a plan is developed to eradicate the disease, with options including destocking or foot bathing, paring and inspecting sheep until the disease is gone.

Signs of footrot include lame sheep, inflammation between the digits and underrunning of the sole and heel. In severe cases sheep will lie down, walk on their knees and lose weight.

Virulent footrot is notifiable under the Stock Diseases Act 1923, so any landholder, land manager, agent or vet who suspects that footrot is present in a mob they have seen is legally obliged to notify a District Veterinarian as soon as possible.

All producers should also concentrate on keeping fences in good condition to ensure straying stock are excluded. If you witness lame sheep or any other signs of footrot, call your nearest Local Land Services District Veterinarian.

For more information contact Dr Charlotte Cavanagh on 02 6830 0004.


Media contact: Meg Strang 0429 340 600.