Study examines treatments for sheep disease

Jan 29 2015

A new study has provided the first detailed examination of a contagious disease that can lead to severe welfare issues in sheep.

The study, co-funded by Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) and EBLEX and carried out by the University of Liverpool, looked at Contagious Ovine Digital Dermatitis (CODD), which is a cause of infectious lameness in sheep and has been shown to have a severe impact on the welfare of individual animals.

“This is a landmark project because it provides important information on the antibiotics used to treat this disease,” said Lynfa Davies, HCC’s Technical Development Executive. “This is the first time this data has been gathered, and it should help researchers decide what direction to take in future studies.”

Surveys have shown that CODD – recognised as a disease distinct from footrot – may affect between 35 and 53 per cent of sheep flocks in the UK, with up to 50 per cent of an individual flock affected at any one time.

The new study centred on four farms in North Wales between March 2013 and July 2014. All farms had between 300 and 1,000 breeding ewes, with three being lowland and one situated in the hills.

Mrs Davies said the next stage of the project involved examining the efficacy of antibiotic treatment of sheep affected by CODD.

“A research group is currently undertaking a large scale trial on 30 farms investigating the efficacy of whole flock treatment, and the results of this trial should be available at the end of 2015,” she said.

Dr Jennifer Duncan, Senior lecturer in Livestock Health and Welfare at the university’s School of Veterinary Science, said: "The antibiotic project funded by HCC and EBLEX, together with our farm trials, will allow for the first time, the development of evidence based treatment and control methods for this important disease of sheep.”

The full report, ‘An investigation into CODD lesion treponome bacteria and their antibiotic sensitivities’, can be found via the following page on the HCC website:

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