Foot Scald / Footrot

Footrot is a bacterial infection prevalent in warm moist areas (mostly during the rainy season). It is caused mainly by the synergistic action of the bacteria Fusobacterium necrophorum and Dichelobacter nodosus. The D. nodosus bacteria can cause various degrees of involvement of the sole. Footrot can have a range of symptoms depending on the specific strain(s) of D. nodosus present. Both sheep and goats are susceptible to footrot.

Foot scald infects only the area between the toes and often clears up quickly with treatment or with improving environmental conditions. Virulent footrot is much more of a problem, as the bacteria enter the hoof and digest the hard, horny tissue of the sole that protects the fleshy tissue of the hoof. Virulent footrot in sheep and goats causes much economic loss and increased management effort. Once it infects a herd/flock, it is difficult to eradicate. Decreased reproductive capabilities. These conditions result in production losses, treatment and prevention costs, premature culling, and reduced sale value of infected animals


·         Footrot commonly appears on a farm when an infected sheep or goat is brought into the herd. The D. nodosus bacteria cannot live in the environment for more than about 14 days, so almost always, the source of the bacteria in an unaffected herd/flock is a carrier animal.

·         Footrot occurs more commonly when feet are not trimmed frequently enough and in crowded housing situations. Some individuals are genetically more susceptible than others.

·         While not as likely as with carrier animals footrot can also be spread on boots, tires, feeders, or handler’s hands, so care must be taken if footrot is present in the herd.


·         Redness and inflammation between the toes and a bad odor.

·         In advanced cases, the hoof horn becomes under run and actually can separate from the hoof wall.

·         lameness, reduced weight gain as animals are less willing to move to feed

Treatment and control

·         Farmers should not buy animals with footrot or from infected flocks or they should not use areas or vehicles that infected sheep have inhabited.

·         Quarantine any new additions to the herd for 30 days, and trim feet before introducing them to the other animals.

·         Infected animals should be culled to prevent them from re-infecting the rest of the herd.

·         Regular hoof trimming and sound nutrition.

·         Foot soaking baths using zinc sulfate can be constructed to treat footrot.

·         Vaccines are also effective most of the time and can be used with other management practices to reduce the prevalence of footrot.