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Footrot is a contagious bacterial disease of the feet of sheep with significant welfare and economic impacts. While the number of flocks with virulent (severe) strains of footrot has been reduced considerably over the last 20 years, footrot remains a serious disease.
Virulent footrot can be eradicated from flocks but at considerable expense. Success is often season-dependent as wet, warm conditions favour footrot. Less virulent strains can cause considerable lameness and production loss but may not be eradicable.
Regulations with regard to the diagnosis and management of footrot in sheep vary between states, but in some states, footrot is a notifiable disease.
A Farmer Footrot Tool is available which helps enable footrot-affected producers to understand the financial cost of the disease on their farm and to evaluate the cost effectiveness of different strategies to control or eradicate the disease.
A Footrot ute guide to identification and control in the field is available on the Sheep Connect Tasmania website. The ute guide – which has been developed by Sheep Connect Tasmania as part of a collaborative project with DPIPWE, funded by AWI – outlines the disease’s cause, symptoms, treatment, management and eradication options. It also features case studies from two Tasmanian producers who have overcome the challenges of footrot.
Current and Recent Projects
An AWI funded project, commenced in 2018/19, with the University of Sydney and Treidlia Biovet, to investigate a new multivalent vaccine formulation is expected to lead to improved short-term protection or control of footrot. Early results suggest the new formulation may reduce the clinical severity and prevent the spread of footrot in endemic and chronic infected areas. Results from this work will also be used to define best practice for footrot vaccine use in different flocks with different types of footrot.
Read more about the vaccine use for footrot in the Eradicating virulent footrot using specific vaccines factsheet.