The aim of this study was to investigate whether the risk factors associated with all causes of lameness in sheep differed from those associated with the lesion specific causes of lameness, interdigital dermatitis (ID) and footrot (FR). A total of 809 randomly selected English sheep farmers participated in a postal survey in 2005. Data were requested on their management of lameness in 2004 and whether this had changed from 2003 and the prevalence of all lameness, and lameness caused by ID and FR. The farmer ability to recognise ID and FR was assessed from their responses to a written and pictorial description. On 443 farms where both ID and FR were correctly named by the farmer, the mean prevalence of all lameness, and lameness caused by ID and FR were 10.0% (95% CI: 8.9, 10.8), 6.5% (95% CI: 5.8, 7.3) and 3.1% (95% CI: 2.8, 3.6), respectively. The mean prevalence of all lameness on all 809 farms was not significantly different at 10.2% (95% CI: 9.2, 11.0). The data were analysed using negative binomial regression models with the three outcomes farmer estimated prevalence of all lameness and lameness caused by ID or FR in 2004. Farmers who changed management of sheep between 2003 and 2004 were excluded from the analysis, thus all fixed effects were the farmers' managements in 2003 and 2004 to ensure that the management was in place for at least one year before the prevalence estimates. Routine foot trimming ≥once/year compared with no routine foot trimming was significantly associated with an increased prevalence of all lameness (prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.34), ID (PR = 1.50) and FR (PR = 1.35). Footbathing was also significantly associated with increased prevalence of all lameness (PR = 1.67), ID (PR = 1.68) and FR (PR = 1.76). A stocking density of >8 ewes/ha was associated with a significantly increased prevalence of all lameness (PR = 1.26) and ID (PR = 1.39). There was a significantly lower prevalence of FR (PR = 0.73; PR = 0.70, respectively) on farms in the North East and South East of England. Separating lame sheep at pasture was associated with a decreased prevalence of all lameness and ID (PR = 0.75; PR = 0.73) and location of the farm in South East England was associated with a lower prevalence of all lameness and ID (PR = 0.75; PR = 0.71, respectively). We conclude that management factors associated with all lameness, and lameness attributed to ID and FR are similar.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Jasmeet Kaler was supported by an MLC studentship. Thank you to English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) for provision of the address list, to farmers for participating in the study, to Dr. R. Grogono-Thomas for three lesion pictures used in the survey, to Sam Mason for advice with database management and all those in E and E who helped send out the questionnaires.
- Interdigital dermatitis
- Negative binomial regression
- Risk factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Animals
- Animal Science and Zoology