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Diary: Postponing a trip to the mart with lambs

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes discusses lameness in sheep.

Well, folks, my week started off with a bit of a setback. I had intended to go to my local mart with a small bunch of ram lambs but, regrettably, I had to cancel all operations.

While doing a routine feed and stock check on Sunday evening, I noticed three of them very lame.

Not one of them was lame that morning, so I knew it was an acute issue and nothing too serious.

Lameness in sheep

However, it did mean I could not take them to the mart. It would be unacceptable to show up with animals in this condition.

I want to show that I am producing strong and healthy lambs when I go to sell them and be proud of my work as a farmer.

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I have spoken previously about the issues we, as sheep farmers, can encounter regarding foot problems in sheep.

Unfortunately, they are prone to foot problems; it’s just the ‘nature of the beast’ so to speak.

Sheep originated from much warmer and drier parts of the globe than our moist and damp wee Ireland, and because of this, they can develop conditions of the feet more often.

When caught and treated in good time, these issues are quite minor, and they respond very well to treatment.

Similarly, if left unattended, a very simple case of foot scald can develop into a more serious and very contagious condition such as foot rot to name but one.

Any of these foot disorders are very debilitating and will cost the animal, and the farmer big pains in the foot and the pocket!

I have been very happy with my sheep’s feet in the last 2/3 years. I have worked hard to eradicate any recurring hoof diseases, and I’ve maintained a very low percentage of re-offending feet.

That isn’t to say I don’t have the odd few lame now and again.

Something as simple as a tiny cut from grass or a thorn between the grooves of their hooves can expose an area for a nasty little bacterium called Fusobacterium-nephhorum to invade.

This wee bacterium was helped along no end by the spate of mild and humid weather we have experienced, up until recently, providing the optimum conditions for it to do its worst.

As I mentioned above, once it’s caught early and treated with a simple wash and a vet prescribed antibiotic treatment.

It is very easy to get under control. Within 24 hours, you will see an improvement in the animal’s condition. Furthermore, in the following days, a full recovery is anticipated.

Mart visit

And this is exactly what occurred, the only annoyance for me, was that it meant I had to postpone my mart visit by a week but hey!

It’s not the end of the world…I’m happy that that’s all I had to contend with last week.

Sure, here I am, and it is mart day today (Monday, November 29th, 2021).

Prices are still holding quite well for sheep farmers selling stock so, wish me luck!

Further reading:

See more of Clodagh’s diary entries.

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