Many youth have their lamb projects for the fall show season or will have them very soon. Due to the climate of North Carolina and wet pens, footrot can become a problem for some 4-H'ers.
Diagnosis of the problem is usually made after lameness is observed. Not all sheep become lame. Four-H'ers should be spending more time with their sheep and need to know that a moist red area between the toes is the first sign of footrot.
To help prevent the problem be sure that the foot is properly trimmed as outlined in the 4-H Market Lamb Manual and keep pens dry. Foot trimming helps as the organisms cannot survive when exposed to oxygen. The dry pens will help prevent footrot as prolonged exposure to moist areas is necessary for footrot to develop.
This problem can reduce gains and cause significant amounts of time and expense to eliminate, particularly if this infects a large flock. There are many ways to treat the problem such as vaccines, foot baths, dry chemicals and topical treatments.
For the 4-H'er, the least expensive and most convenient treatment would be the use of topical treatment. Ten percent zinc sulfate in water and 10% copper sulfate in vinegar can be used but may be difficult to find at the local feed store.
A relatively new topical treatment has had very good results. The treatment is a solution of oxytetracycline in alcohol. Simply put 1 packet (25.69g) of Terramycin powder in cup of water. Then add rubbing alcohol to bring the solution to 2 quarts. The solution can be applied with a spray bottle.
Topical treatment is an effective way for 4-H'ers to address the problem if footrot does occur. Good luck with the projects and hopefully the bacteria will not cause a problem. If it does, be prepared.