Why Do Sheep Eat on Their Knees / Feet Problems


Why Do Sheep Eat on Their Knees

How Sheep Eat

Sheep’s work slowly forward when grazing, often side by side, apparently smelling the grass then cropping suitable material by gripping the grass between their teeth and pad. The grass is cut by rapid forward and upward movements of the head. They seem to especially like grazing up to the edge of objects. The grass along the edges of walls, around objects, or at the base of a fence is always thoroughly grazed.

When browsing on hedges, fences, trees or suspended hay-nets they commonly stand up on their back legs in order to reach suitable plant material. Sheep are sometimes kneeled during eating due to her overgrown feet. Often mud sticks in between the toes and causes pain and later on rot will develop in the area under the mud where oxygen cannot reach and leads to lameness.

It can also be well managed by following simple preventative and treatment measures. Lameness can cause huge welfare and economic problems in the flock: an animal in pain will spend less time feeding and grazing and more time lying down with a decrease in body condition, lower lambing percentages, reduced growth rates in lambs, poor fertility in rams, and many more. Some of the more common causes of lameness are as follows:

All Things Sheep Feeding

Scald Sheep Lameness

Scald is the most common cause of lameness in sheep and is most prevalent when conditions underfoot are wet. It can be a precursor to some other more severe causes of lameness so needs to be treated promptly. It can affect all age groups but is more prevalent in lambs than ewes.

It is caused by bacteria Fusobacterium, which is found naturally in the environment. It is commonly spread in warm, damp conditions during grazing periods. The skin between the claws is affected.

It becomes swollen, sore, and inflamed and covered by a thin layer of white material There is no under-running of the hoof wall and no foul smell although sheep can appear quite lame with this condition.

Treatment; Individual cases of scald can be treated topically using oxytetracycline aerosol sprays. When several animals are affected, walking sheep through a 10% zinc sulfate solution or 3% formalin in a footbath usually provides effective control.

It is usually necessary to repeat the foot bathing at weekly intervals throughout the risk period. Afterward, foot bathing sheep must stand in a dry area so that the formalin or zinc sulfate can dry on the feet. At concentrations greater than 5%, formalin can cause severe irritation of the interdigital skin.

Prevention; Controlling footrot in ewes helps reduce scald levels in lambs Minimize irritation of the skin between the claws by;

  • Keeping sward height low especially during June and July
  • Cutting stemmy swards for hay or silage
  • Removing thorns, hedge trimmings, etc. from fields
  • Ensuring pens are dry and well-bedded
  • Moving troughs regularly to prevent heavy poaching
  • Avoid high stocking densities in pens and at pasture
  • Applying builders’ lime around troughs and gateways may help to reduce the infection
Sheep Foot Trimming

Foot Rot

Footrot is a bacterial infection of the horny parts and the adjacent soft structures of the feet. It is most often a problem on wet, marshy, or badly drained pasture although the wet itself doesn’t cause the disease; it simply facilitates infection.

Affected sheep will usually be quite lame; on examination of the foot, there may be swelling over the coronet or an area of the horn will be soft, painful on pressure, “rotten looking” with a foul-smelling discharge present.

Footrot can be eradicated by keeping pasture free of sheep for three weeks and by isolating and treating affected sheep. A vaccine containing inactive strains of one of the causal bacteria is available.

Ideally, sheep with footrot should be housed in a dry, strawed yard and given daily treatment. The feet should be trimmed until all of the “rotten” material has been removed then the feet should be dipped in a zinc sulfate solution. Oxytetracycline spray is useful and in bad cases, a long-acting antibiotic can be very effective.

If you are treating sheep with footrot, take care not to spread the infection – keep hands, knife, or foot shears clean and dispose of foot trimmings carefully.

Sheep Lameness

Contagious Ovine Digital Dermatitis (CODD)

This is an apparently new disease in which sheep are extremely lame and a large proportion of the flock can be affected. The lesion begins at the coronary band of the hoof and runs downwards towards the toe often resulting in the loss of the whole hoof capsule.

The foot is often so badly damaged that the horn does not grow back properly. There is usually hair loss for 2-3 cm above the coronary band and there is no inter-digital involvement. The condition is not well understood, but it is believed that different kinds of bacteria may be involved including possibly a spirochete similar to that which causes digital dermatitis in cattle.

Control depends on purchasing all sheep from known sources and/or health status to reduce the risk of infection, isolation of all purchased sheep for at least 30 days, regular inspection of all purchased sheep during the quarantine period, and the isolation of any sheep found to be lame and prompt treatment with a suitable antibiotic recommended by your veterinary surgeon.

Treatment; Do not trim. The hoof horn, although loose, still protects the living tissue underneath – Antibiotic footbaths, injections, and sprays are not always effective. Consult your vet for the latest recommendations – Culling of severely affected sheep may be necessary on welfare grounds

Prevention; Avoid buying in sheep from flocks with CODD. Quarantine for as long as possible, cases often arise several months after purchase. Avoid mixed grazing if digital dermatitis is present in cattle. Isolate suspected cases and seek veterinary advice immediately. This will help to minimize disease spread and reduce the risk of permanent foot damage.

Foot Rot Diseases

General Tips on Foot Care

  • Lameness is impossible to eliminate but it can be controlled.
  • Regular foot inspection is important.
  • In most cases, routine trimming of all feet is unnecessary and can actually do more harm than good.
  • Correct diagnosis and early treatment improve the chances of success.
  • Good handling facilities reduce stress on both the operator and the animal.
  • Rough or dirty handling pens can cause hoof damage and spread foot infections.
  • Always record or mark treated animals (you can use the notes at the end of this booklet). If lameness persists, repeat treatments after 14 days.
  • If a third treatment is required, consider culling the persistent offenders.
  • Seek veterinary advice if necessary.
Treating Foot Rot in Sheep

Foot bathing best practice

  • Before foot bathing, check that equipment and handling pens are in good condition.
  • Foot bathing is best carried out on a dry day.
  • If possible, try to have feet as clean as possible before foot bathing. This is most easily achieved by placing a second foot bath, filled with water, immediately before the main treatment foot bath.
  • Use solutions at concentrations recommended by the manufacturer. High concentrations of some foot bathing products will damage the feet and skin, making the problem worse.
  • Make sure the footbath solution is deep enough to cover the entire hoof and that all feet are treated.
  • Allow animals to stand in the footbath solution for the recommended time. This is more easily achieved with stand-in pens rather than walk-through baths.
  • For best results, allow the sheep to stand on a hard-dry surface for up to one hour after treatment.
  • After foot bathing, move the sheep onto dry pasture which has not been grazed within the previous 2 weeks
  • Dispose of the footbath solution carefully

Sheep Farming for Wool Profitability Table

SheepLambs / 3 Per YrSpace Required 20 Sq Feet - EachGrazing Acres .3 / SheepFeed Required / Yr $10015 Lbs Wool / YearAverage Price $ 10 / LB WoolTotal Revenue Possible
1360 sq ft.9 acres$ 30045 lbs$ 450$ 150
26120 sq ft1.80 acres$ 60090 lbs$ 900$ 300
515300 sq ft4.5 acres$ 1,500225 lbs$ 2,250$ 750
1030600 sq ft9 acres$ 3,000450 lbs$ 4,500$ 1,500
20601200 sq ft18 acres$ 6,000900 lbs$ 9,000$ 3,000
30902,700 sq ft27 acres$ 9,0001,350 lbs$ 13,500$ 4,500
401204800 sq ft36 acres$ 12,0001,800 lbs$ 18,000$ 6,000
501503,000 sq ft45 acres$ 15,0002,250 lbs$ 22,500$ 7,500
1003006,000 sq ft90 acres$ 30,0004,500 lbs$ 45,000$ 15,000
20060012,000 sq ft180 acres$ 60,0009,000 lbs$ 90,000$ 30,000
Sheep can give Birth 6+ lambs every Two Years
Sheep can Produce 2 - 30 lbs of wool per year depending on Breed
Raw washed Wool Runs $ 6 - $ 14 using average $ 10
Feed 5 Months Buying Hay $ 100 rest Grazing
Please Check my Numbers

Sheep Farming for Milk Profitability Table

SheepLambs / 3 Per YrSpace Required 20 Sq Feet - EachGrazing Acres .3 / SheepFeed Required / Yr $100Wool $ 15 lb / YearAverage Price $ 10 / LB Wool90 Gallon/ Yr each ewePrice $ 30 per GallonTotal Wool Revenue PossibleTotal Revenue Milk and Wool
1360 sq ft.9 acres$ 30045 lbs$ 4502708100$ 1508,250
26120 sq ft1.80 acres$ 60090 lbs$ 90054016,200$ 30016,500
515300 sq ft4.5 acres$ 1,500225 lbs$ 2,250135040,500$ 75041,250
1030600 sq ft9 acres$ 3,000450 lbs$ 4,500270081,000$ 1,50082,500
20601200 sq ft18 acres$ 6,000900 lbs$ 9,0005400162,000$ 3,000165,000
30902,700 sq ft27 acres$ 9,0001,350 lbs$ 13,5008100243,000$ 4,500247,500
401204800 sq ft36 acres$ 12,0001,800 lbs$ 18,00010,800324,000$ 6,000330,000
501503,000 sq ft45 acres$ 15,0002,250 lbs$ 22,50013,500405,000$ 7,500412,500
1003006,000 sq ft90 acres$ 30,0004,500 lbs$ 45,00027,000810,000$ 15,000825,000
20060012,000 sq ft180 acres$ 60,0009,000 lbs$ 90,00054,0001,620,000$ 30,0001,650,000
Sheep can give Birth 6+ lambs every Two Years
Sheep can Produce 1/2 Gallon Milk per day / 180 Day Lactation
Raw Sheep Milk $9 - $25 per Quart - Used $ 30 per Gallon for Table
Feed 5 Months Buying Hay $ 100 rest Grazing
Please Check my Numbers

18 Breeds of Hair Sheep FAQ Table

Hair Breeds of SheepCountry OriginPurpose of BreedUseEwe Weight
KatahdinsCaribbean / Maine / AfricaTo Graze Power lines / instead of ChemicalsMeat120 - 160 lbs
DorperSouth AfricaThrive in Africa / Hot ClimateMeat / Fast Growing230 LBs
BlackbellyAmericaHot ClimatesMeat150 LBs
St. CroixCarribeanCame on Ships for Meat for sailorsMeat150 lbs
RomanovsRussiaPrimarily for MeatMeat
Wool - Double Coated
110 lbs
Blackhead PersianAfrica / SomailaBred for High Quanity of FatMeat120 lbs
West African DwarfSouth / Central AfricaMeat55 lbs
Red MaasiEast AfricaBred for Hardiness and parasite ResistanceMeat77 Lbs
Wiltshire HornEngland Do not suffer from FlystrikeMeat149 lbs
Royal WhiteUnited States / TexasBred for Tender Meat and Disease ResistantsMeat175 lbs
California RedNot completely Hair sheep/ Combination of both/ Prod 2 lambs YrMeat140 lbs
DamaraEgyptVigorous with fast growing / in extreme conditionsMeat110 lbs
PelibueyCuba / MexicoTropical SheepMeat75 lbs
AfricanaColumbia / VenezulaMeat110 lbs
MoradaBrazilSurvive ScrubMeat66 lbs
Brazillian SomailaSouth Africa / SomaliMeat
UdaAfricaLong Legged SheepMeat88 lbs
TouabireAfrica Dairy / Meat77 lbs
Breeds - Origin - Purpose - Weight

Minature Breeds of Sheep

BreedHeightWeight / Full GrownFood Per DayLifespanWool / Hair SheepCost
Quessant Sheep!8"28 - 30 Lbs1/2 - 1lb 10 - 12 YrsWool$ 350 - 450
Baby Doll Southdown18"75 lbs2 - 3 Lbs10 - 12 YrsWool$ 350 -450
Southdown Sheep18" - 24"130 lbs6 - 6 lbs10 - 12 YrsWool$ 180 - $ 600
Cheviot Sheep 20"130 Lbs6 - 6 lbs10 - 12 YrsWool$ 180 - $ 600
Border Cheviot20"130 lbs6 - 6 lbs10 - 12 YrsWool$ 180 - $ 600
Shetland Sheep24"75 - 100 lbs6 - 6 lbs10 - 12 YrsWool$ 50 - $100
Navajo - Churro20"110 lbs6 - 6 lbs10 - 12 YrsWool$ 200
Breed of Sheep and Physical Charistics
Amount of Food they Need
Lifespan
Wool - They Need to be Sheared Hair Sheep - Do not Grow Woll but shed Hair once a year
Pricing Depend whether you just want Sheep Or you want to Breed

Toxic Plants for Sheep Pastures

Toxic / Poisonous Plant Symptoms / Characteristics
Garden IrisRoots and stems
HollyBerries - Diarrhea - vomiting - stupor
Morning Gloryhallucinogenic seeds
RhubarbLeaves - Convulsions and Death
Wild CherryWilted Leaves have Cynaide - Convolusions, Rolling Eyes, Tongue hanging, animal dies within hours
YewNeedle Like Shrub - vomiting, convulsions, animals Rarely survive this poisoning
OaksAcorns, young trees - anorexia, constipation diahreah thirst gastro problems
Mountain LaurelSame symptoms of Poiaoning. Vomiting, Diahreah, salivation - Usually fall into Coma and then Death
RhododendronSame symptoms of Poiaoning. Vomiting, Diahreah, salivation - Usually fall into Coma and then Death
AzaleaSame symptoms of Poiaoning. Vomiting, Diahreah, salivation - Usually fall into Coma and then Death
List of Poisonous / Toxic Plants
many of these are found around Fence Rows
Fields Should be Checked

Sheep Associations 10 Breeds of Sheep

Breeds of SheepCountry OriginPurpose of BreedUseEwe WeightAssociation For Info
Suffolk SheepBritian / SuffolkFast GrowingMeat250 - 350 LbsUnited Suffolk Sheep Association
Merino SheepSpainSoftest WoolWool100 - 200 LbsAmerican and Delane Merino Sheep Association
HampshireBritainBest Tasting MuttonWool / Meat200 LbsAmerican Hampshire Sheep Association
RomneyEngland / Romney MarshDisease ResistanceWool / Meat225 - 275 LbsAmerican Romney Breeders Association
Lincoln SheepEnglandProduce Longest Fleece In WorldWool250 - 350 LbsNational Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association
Dorper SheepSouth AfricanFast Growing MeatMeat230 LbsAmerican Droper Sheep association
Turcana SheepRomainiaAdapted Alpine PastureWool / Milk / Meat175 - 200 Lbs?
Rambouilette SheepFranceStrong / Hearty / All ClimatesWool / Meat300 LbsAmerican Rambouilette Sheep Breeders Association
Leicester LongwoolUnited KingdomFast growing / Good FleeceWool200 LbsLeicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association
Breeds - Origin - Purpose - Weight

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