NEW South Wales authorities are calling for help from all sheep producers to halt the spread of footrot across the state.
Central West Local Land Services Team Leader Animal Biosecurity and Welfare, Dr Jillian Kelly said it is estimated 150,000 sheep on about 45 quarantined properties in the central west of the state have the hoof disease.
She said veterinarians were continuing to see more cases in the region and right across the state.
“We’ve just continued to see more cases.”
Dr Kelly said producers need to notify authorities if they suspect the disease in their flock.
“We’re pondering why is it happening, why are we seeing it continue seeing it is so dry.
“One option is that the bug has changed and is doing things it didn’t do in the past, but the other option is that it has been sitting undetected or undeclared on farms ever since the last winter, when it was wet,” she said.
“While we can’t really dictate what the bug does we can dictate human behaviour, so what we are hoping is that, if you thin k you’ve got it, tell us.
“Check your sheep, if they are at all lame, stop thinking it is foot abscess or they are a bit sore-footed, just please get somebody out to have a look,” she said.
“Let’s face it before spring time, in case it does come in and rain, and that will be true spread period when the bug will spread to other mobs of sheep.
“We just want to catch as many cases and get them under control before a spread period.”
Central west NSW district veterinarians have been diagnosing footrot steadily since last winter and continue to see an average of one new case per week.
Dr Kelly said the continued spread was unsettling.
“Our staff have been actively conducting inspections and traces for months now to stop the spread of footrot,” Dr Kelly said.
“We are concerned at the number of cases we are finding, despite the dry weather.
“This is why it is so important that landholders remain vigilant, especially if we receive high rainfall in spring,” she said.
“All landholders need to be aware of their personal responsibility to regularly assess the health of their stock, particularly if they are intending to trade.”
Footrot is also being found in saleyards across the region on a regular basis.
Producers are encouraged to be vigilant when trading and only to buy from reputable sources.
“It is also really important to request and examine health statements closely before any new stock arrives on your farm,” Dr Kelly said.
“You should isolate newly-purchased stock to ensure they are healthy and check that they don’t show any signs of lameness before you integrate them into the main mob.”
Signs of footrot include lame sheep, inflammation between the digits and underrunning of the sole and heel of the foot.
In some severe cases, sheep will lie down, walk on their knees and lose weight.
Footrot is everyone’s responsibility. If you see lame sheep or suspect footrot, notify your District Veterinarian or contact your nearest Central West Local Land Services office.