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Battling Foot Rot in Sheep and Goats: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment

Updated: Jul 9

Foot rot in sheep and goats is a serious concern for farmers and livestock enthusiasts. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't just caused by muddy or wet conditions; it's a highly contagious disease triggered by the bacteria B. Nodosus. If this bacteria isn't present, your animals won't get foot rot, regardless of the environment. But when B. Nodosus meets a warm and moist setting, it teams up with another bacteria, F. Necrophorum, and the disease starts spreading.

a child holding a lamb

The Culprits: B. Nodosus and F. Necrophorum


B. Nodosus is a stealthy bacteria that can live within a hoof indefinitely without showing symptoms. It can also survive on surfaces like soil for up to 14 days, making it a tough enemy to eliminate from your farm. This is the primary bacteria you need to target.


F. Necrophorum, on the other hand, is always present in manure. While it doesn’t cause foot rot alone, it becomes a problem when B. Nodosus is around. When B. Nodosus invades a hoof, it neutralizes the animal’s antibodies, paving the way for F. Necrophorum to join in. This combination leads to the first signs of infection, often starting with a mild condition called foot scald, and then progressing as the bacteria work together to penetrate deeper into the hoof.


Ideal Conditions for Foot Rot


Foot rot thrives in the spring and fall when the weather is warm and wet, softening the hoofs and creating perfect conditions for the bacteria to flourish. If you've had foot rot issues before, the bacteria might still be lurking in your herd, waiting for the right conditions to strike again. B. Nodosus can be spread through contaminated soil, tools, footwear, and even the feet of other animals, making it essential to take immediate action if an outbreak occurs.


Hoof N' Heel in gallon and pint containers

Effective Foot Rot Management


Managing foot rot requires diligence and good farm management practices. The goal is to eliminate B. Nodosus from both your animals and your environment. Here's a step-by-step approach:


1. Segregate Your Animals: Create three groups: chronically infected, mildly infected, and healthy animals. Keep these groups separate until treatment is complete.


2. Treat Infected Animals: Isolate and treat severely infected animals daily with Hoof 'n Heel liquid until they heal. Consider culling animals with chronic or severe hoof issues. For severe cases, a wet-pack bandage soaked in Hoof 'n Heel can be applied and secured with a plastic bag or a makeshift boot. Leave it on for 24 hours and repeat every five days.


3. Handle Mild Infections: Treat mildly infected animals with Hoof 'n Heel liquid or a foot bath at five-day intervals. Keep these animals in an uncontaminated area and monitor their feet regularly.


4. Preventive Measures for Healthy Animals: Walk healthy animals through a dilute Hoof 'n Heel foot bath and place them in a clean, dry area that hasn't been used for at least 14 days. Ensure they pass through the preventive foot bath daily to prevent new infections.


5. Sanitize Tools and Footwear: Always sanitize hoof shears between uses and clean your boots or shoes before moving between different areas to prevent the spread of bacteria.


6. Quarantine New and Show Animals: Treat new arrivals and show animals with the same care as mildly infected ones before integrating them into your herd. Use Hoof 'n Heel daily during shows and for a week after returning home to ensure they don't bring any bacteria back with them.


young boy holds baby goat kid

Why Choose Hoof 'n Heel?


Hoof 'n Heel stands out because it works six times faster than a zinc sulfate solution alone. The zinc in Hoof 'n Heel, aided by sodium lauryl sulfate, penetrates the hoof quickly and doesn’t wash out easily. It's safe for animals and the environment and comes in convenient packaging options: pint squirt bottles, gallon containers, and powder concentrate for larger foot baths.


Final Thoughts


Eliminating foot rot is achievable with patience and consistent management. By diligently treating your animals and maintaining a clean environment, you can eradicate B. Nodosus from your farm. Remember to follow all preventive measures to keep this troublesome bacteria from making a comeback.


To find out where you can purchase Hoof N' Heel - Click here.


For a downloadable flyer on Dr. Naylor Hoof N' Heel click below.


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