Recent rain and wonderful pasture growth have provided ideal conditions for footrot bacteria to once again become active.
They love moisture and humidity and are barely active when it is hot and dry - so the disease has laid low over recent drought years.
However, as the season turns, 'dormant' bacteria can become active, causing underrunning between hard and soft tissue of the feet, separation and lifting of the horn, and severe lameness in affected animals.
The most common way footrot enters a property is through the front gate.
Livestock sales are very active, and sheep are coming into NSW from far and wide. While virulent footrot has been strictly regulated in NSW since a strong industry push in 1988, it is important to be aware that this level of regulation does not exist in all states.
In NSW, there is surveillance to actively look for disease, and quarantine of affected properties until successful eradication.
This is not the case for example in Victoria, where a producer with virulent footrot is under no obligation to eradicate the disease on their own property.
When considering buying in sheep, evaluate the risk of buying in footrot too.
Consider requesting a National Sheep Health Declaration where the vendor makes a statement about virulent footrot, as well as benign footrot and scald. But do keep in mind that these conditions may be interpreted differently by producers in other states.
Be alert when new sheep arrive on your property. Make a thorough inspection upon unloading for any signs of lameness.
Quarantine well away from other sheep on your property until conditions are wet and warm enough for footrot bacteria to become active, if they are present.
Footbathing will mask symptoms, potentially delaying a diagnosis of footrot. However, once the cause of lameness is known, can benefit welfare and production.
To discuss risks of buying in footrot or report any concerns on lameness in sheep, please contact us at the Central West Local Land Services Forbes Office on 6850 1600.
As mentioned, footrot is still regulated in NSW and we all have a responsibility to the NSW sheep industry to have potential cases of footrot investigated.
Prompt diagnosis of the disease will always lead to the best outcome.