Friday, October 14, 2011

"Eliminating the Effects of Footrot on Sheep Flocks in the Northeast"

How did I become a participant in this project: For about 3 years I have had issues with my goats hooves and my Cormo/Olde English Babydoll Southdown's hooves and a couple of lambs (lambs were treated and were fine after 1 application of store bought soluctions). There was more work involved with trimming hooves and applying store bought solutions that was not curing the adults with hoof issues.

I e-mailed Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, from the University of Maine and she sent me to Richard Brzozowski, PH.D., Extension Educator, Agriculture, Cumberland County. After speaking with both of them, my understanding of this hoof issue is that the medicines we are using are not strong enough and we also need to rotate pastures where this "organism" is alive. Two weeks in each pasture, using 3 different pasture areas in treatment is important - so this organism will die? I believe I was also told all pastures have this organism. So I would think maybe spring and fall have our animals walk thru a footbath of Zinc Sulfate and detergent.

Richard asked me if I was interested in being a participant of the above project. Of course I said yes and he sent me all the paperwork, which I immediately filled out and he quickly called me back and explained the month long protocol of the project, which started October 5, 2011 at my farm:

Day 1 was very exciting. Tom, Richard and myself set up panels for all my sheep & goats, then used Famacha testing to check parasite level (none of my Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown sheep or Angora Goats needed to be medicated - amazing and I was going to worm them all)! This is another important study both Richard and Tom have been working on (medicate when necessary so animals to not become immune to medicines).

Richard and Tom set up machine to gently tip all my animals so their hooves could be trimmed and evaluated. I was taught how to evaluate and how to better trim their hooves - to look out for pockets and trim correctly to eliminate them. Again my sheep had "very little hoof growth, which all members of this team found really amazing and only a couple had pockets. Then each animal stepped into a 20% Zinc Sulfate solution for 10 minutes and Anne and Caitlin then drew blood for DNA to see if there are predictive markers of footrot resistance.

Members of this team were Dr. Thomas Settlemire, retired from the University of Bowdoin College, Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner of the University of Maine, Richard Brzozowski, PH.D., Extension Educator, Agriculture, Cumberland County, and Caitlin Minutolo, University of Maine (I believe an intern), and of course me Betty Stover, Shepardess, mom, fiber artist, apartment landlord, dog breeder, (I have more titles than they do. Am I bragging or what?).

We ended up with my Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown ram, Churchhill, with a hoof infection (he was not limping and I had no idea he had this infection - his pen is small compared to the pasture and when it rains it is very moist in this pen - maybe a top coat of gravel?), my Cormo/Babydoll cross, Whitety had scald and one of my Angora Goat does had footrot. Both of the sheep are now is a different pen together and I was told to spray his hoof in 2 days, which my husband did for me.

Day 7: October 12, 2011, 2 affected sheep and goat sent thru footbath.

Will Post Day 14 around October 19.

Thank you so much Tom, Dick, Anne and Caitlin. You don't know how important it is for me to have healthy animals to share with friends and know I am selling healthy animals. I would love to see more local Maine vets involved in this program so we all get educated in this area of HOOF health. Then again I am sure you will be sharing this study with all Maine Farmers/Vets once it is completed.

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