Footbathing, formalin and foot trimming: the 3Fs associated with granulomas and shelly hoof in sheep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Warwick University


Granulomas and shelly hoof (SH), are lesions of sheep feet. Our objective was to use data from four questionnaires on lameness sent to English sheep farmers in 2004, 2013, 2014 and 2015 to further understanding of the risks and aetiologies of both lesions.

Granulomas were more likely in flocks where routine foot trimming (odds ratio [OR] = 3.17; 95% confidence intervals [CI] 1.11 – 11.47) and routine footbathing (OR = 2.38; 95% CI 1.19 – 4.83) were practised than where these management protocols were not. SH was more likely in flocks that were footbathed in formalin compared with not footbathing (OR = 1.65; 95% CI 1.19 – 2.30), and was less common in flocks that stocked ewes at more than eight vs. four per acre (OR = 0.34; 95% CI 0.17 – 0.68). There were weak associations between SH and foot trimming. In 2004 only, SH was more likely in flocks where therapeutic foot trimming was practised than not practised (OR = 2.24; 95% CI 1.12 – 4.68). In 2014 only, SH was marginally less likely in flocks where no feet bled during trimming, compared with flocks not routinely trimmed (OR = 0.55; CI 0.30- 1.00); SH was not related to foot trimming once severe footrot was included. We propose that flocks with granulomas and SH would decrease if farmers stopped footbathing in general, in particular with formalin, and avoided foot trimming whether as a therapeutic or routine practice. Further work is needed to understand the role of stocking density.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalThe Veterinary Journal
Early online date21 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Contagious ovine digital dermatitis, Footrot, Lameness prevalence, Multivariable models, Sheep flock management