Wiolene Nordi and Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein
Sheep production in Canada is increasing (one million head on 11,000 farms of which 2,000 farms are in Alberta), due to the growing demand for lamb meat by consumers over the last five years as a result of growing ethnic markets. Consequently, both ewe flocks and growing/finishing lamb feedlots have been increasing in number and size within Alberta to meet the demand for this growing market.
Lameness is a common cause of welfare and economic concern in most sheep producing countries. For example, prevalence of lameness in UK sheep farms has been reported to be between eight and 10 per cent with the main cause being, interdigital dermatitis, severe footrot, ovine digital dermatitis, and shelly hoof (Kaler and Green 2009*). In Alberta, we see lame sheep on farms, feedlots, auctions and pasture. At one time, there was a provincial footrot eradication program. Veterinary inspections, foot trimming and foot-soaking were standard annual procedures for the 20,000 plus sheep that headed to B.C. forestry reserves. Despite all the effort, time and money, lame sheep are still common. (more…)