Footrot is horrible. It affects sheep (though not the Soays so far) and goats and is caused by bacteria which live in the pasture. In wet and muddy conditions the bacteria breed in the cleft between the hooves and start to attack the skin which then rots, giving off a disgusting smell and causing great discomfort to the animal. We’ve had footrot problems for several years, but generally things get much better in the summer as the drier weather reduces the mud build up, and we only really have to treat them once at the beginning of the summer and not worry again until October time.
This year with the weather being so wet during June and July we still have footrot problems now. We treated some of the sheep for footrot a couple of weeks ago, and Boris, one of our Angoran goats yesterday. She, yes Boris is a girl, was starting to limp quite badly and so we did the only thing we could – we flipped her on her back and took clippers to her hooves. Next time I’ll take pictures of the footrot if I can, but I didnt manage to yesterday. She had bad footrot on two of her hooves and the start of it on one. The best way to deal with footrot is to scrape away at the rotten skin to open it up to oxygen, as the bacteria are anaerobic, and then spray with an anti-biotic. The old farmers advice is to scrape till you get blood, which doesnt usually take much. The animal obviously doesn’t like that at all and tends to wriggle, but if you dont get all of the foot rot then they’ll be limping again very quickly. We seem to have done a good job as she was moving more quickly today. Yet another thing to keep an eye out for…
Boris looking ready for some food:
You can tell we’ve recently been at her feet as you can see the blue between her hooves. If it was purple it would mean we’d trimmed her hooves but not found any footrot – the purple ‘foot master’ spray is an anti-bacterial and it’s good practice to spray the newly cut hooves (it also helps you identify which ones you’ve done before you flip the poor goat over for a second time!):