Lambs are growing at a speedy rate

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Three main issues can affect sheep feet – scald, foot rot and codd (contagious digital dermatitis).

The Zwartbles are back at the field and enjoying an abundance of grass. This is clearly providing rich milk to the ewes as the lambs are growing at an astonishing rate. All of the intensity of lambing has gone and it is a joy to see the little ones playing in the field.
The ground is soft around the shelter and we are having more problems than usual with sore feet. The mud is getting between the toes of the sheep, they have a cloven hoof, meaning their hooves are split into two toes. My mis-marked Disney Princess is the latest to fall victim to the over-exaggerated limp. She is certainly making us think – we have sprayed, trimmed and treated and still she limps like a three-legged hobby horse. Although, shake a bucket and she can run very fast on three legs to get to the feed.
Three main issues can affect sheep feet – scald, foot rot and codd (contagious digital dermatitis). Scald is the most common and is prevalent when it is wet underfoot. It is caused by bacteria found naturally in the environment and is spread when warm and wet and when grazing. The skin between the toes is affected and it can cause sheep to become quite lame.

Three main issues can affect sheep feet – scald, foot rot and codd (contagious digital dermatitis).
Three main issues can affect sheep feet – scald, foot rot and codd (contagious digital dermatitis).

I suspect, though, she has foot rot as her foot smells. She is being brilliant at letting us spray her foot and is becoming an expert as grazing while on her knees. It is a daily routine, making sure she has fed properly. If she is spending a lot of her time on her knees, she will quickly lose body condition and, as she is feeding triplets, we need to make sure she is getting everything she needs.
The constant spraying gives my hands a colour palette of purple foot spray, blue antibiotic and orange iodine – I am not sure it will catch on though!
The hedge-laying has produced a myriad of new shoots and already everything is growing back. The increased sunlight in the field has given new wildflowers a chance to grow and we have seen a Robin nesting in the part by the road.
For those who follow the traditional sayings, in our field we have had ‘Oak before Ash’, meaning we are in for a splash. Let’s hope not – I am getting bored with looking at sheep feet!

by Tria Stebbing

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