Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Thought this might be of interest....  (Read 5080 times)

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Thought this might be of interest....
« on: February 14, 2012, 10:38:09 pm »
http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/16/06/2011/127354/Five-steps-to-beating-lameness.htm

What the article doesn't say, however is that Prof. Green has also said that routine foot-trimming is more likely to lead to incidences of bad feet than leaving them.

So - Don't routinely trim feet, treat/cull limpers.....life will be so much easier... :thumbsup:

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2012, 10:43:53 pm »
I'll shoot my flock of GFDs tomorrow then.  I've never seen foot rot but they all need regular trimming - at least every quarter - otherwise they can't walk properly.

My commercial crosses though have lovely feet.
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2012, 10:52:16 pm »
Do they actually limp if you leave them? I've heard in some cases that horn can fold over and it breaks off in the end..

And what about ram breeders? Anyone that sells you a ram whos mother has had to have her feet trimmed or has had foot issues itself is...not the kind of person you give repeat business to, to put it mildly.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2012, 02:50:49 am »

So - Don't routinely trim feet, treat/cull limpers.....life will be so much easier... :thumbsup:

The article says that the trial farms culled repeat limpers, ie., ones which had been treated once and then were limpy again. At the outset, this was about 50% of sheep treated, and by culling those which became lame again, this proportion dropped significantly and so, exponentially, did the overall flock lameness levels.

I suspect that most of us would never build up a breeding flock at all if we culled every sheep that ever limped!

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2012, 08:21:16 am »
This is true, Sally (and what I meant by 'treat/cull'). But given that cull ewes were making up to 150/head in some parts of the country this winter and we now know susceptability to footrot has a genetic component, it seems a sensible time to sell your problems and keep replacements from less susceptible sheep.

I think you could extend the problem to anything with a genetic component: scouring/sucsceptability to parsites, complications at lambing/mismothering. Of course, your 'culling' could simply be of those genetics, ie not keeping replacements from problem ewes.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 08:34:22 am by SteveHants »

Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2012, 09:21:35 am »
It's a strange thing this limping business.  Many of my breeding adults including the ram limp from time to time, but only one of them has had proper footrot.  The others when I check them don't seem to show any signs of anything, except sometimes needing trimming?  And sometimes this solves the problem, other times the limping goes on for a bit but in nearly all cases it resolves itself ???  If it's footrot or infection then surely that wouldn't go away on it's own ..

I had one ewe who was walking on three legs recently.  When I checked her over I couldn't see a thing wrong with the bad leg - no trimming needed, no sign of rot or any signs of infection between the two parts of the hoof.  It may be that she had twisted her leg or some such thing as she's better now but as my limping sheep seem to usually get better on their own I don't quite understand it!
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

tizaala

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Dolau, Llandrindod Wells,Powys
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2012, 10:07:44 am »
And sometimes they have simply trod on a thorn....

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2012, 11:16:53 am »
And sometimes they have simply trod on a thorn....

Yes, I think thats why Prof Green found that farmers weren't quick to respond to limping, because they do limp for a couple of days from time to time with no real explanation.

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2012, 10:05:17 pm »
My GFDs grow horn at an industrial rate and it does indeed fold over but it then causes them to limp or walk on their knees.  Maybe thats part of why they're not commercial sheep
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

jaykay

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2012, 10:12:39 pm »
I'm glad to hear other folk have sheep who limp for no reason! I had several, so yesterday, when I had to gather them for the scanner, I trimmed and sprayed their feet, not that I could find anything much wrong. And some are still limping today  :sheep: I think they just notice a reduction in my frown lines on occasions and decide to do something to rectify it  ::)

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2012, 11:47:33 pm »
My GFDs grow horn at an industrial rate and it does indeed fold over but it then causes them to limp or walk on their knees.  Maybe thats part of why they're not commercial sheep

I think this is quite interesting if it extends to the whole breed. Whilst I think it ins important to keep rare breeds around (I am a fan of a wide genepool amongst other things), I can't see why, in scenarios like this breeding pure should be adhered to - you could, for example cross with something else with decent wool and sound feet, Romneys for example and then keep backcrossing. I think by the fifth generation 99 odd % of the genes would be GFD, but you could select for ones with sound feet....(a bit like they did with wiltipolls in aus - esentially a polled Wilts Horn).

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2012, 08:48:11 am »
Interesting subthread on genetics... 

The GFD is presumeably bred to live on the rocky outcrops of Dartmoor, where it would rapidly wear its hoof down, so needs hoof that grows quickly. 

For the breed to survive, it needs lowland keepers to breed it, but that gives problems with the rate of horn production on this softer ground.

So it may be, as SH suggests, that the breed should be 'improved' by adding a little Romney (or, if it's for good feet, it would feel nicer to use the Exmoor Horn, which is more local to the GFD and famously has tremendous feet - Exmoor isn't rocky, it's wet and boggy / heathery, so I don't think the horn growth would be a factor in this breed.)  Reducing the horn growth would help the breed suit more smallholder and even semi-commercial breeders - but would mean that it no longer suits its native environment... and, those unsullied native genes for faster horn growth would be diluted... which, should we ever need to source genes for fast horn growth, we may regret...  ::)

Which is why I am a fan of crossbreeds.  If good crosses can be identified, which will sell and perform well, I think that helps the pure breed, as it is needed to be one half of the crossbreed, meaning that breeders have more outlets for their purebred ewe lambs, without diluting or eroding the important genotype.  (Sorry for overlong sentence, hope it makes some sense.)

There would be very few Blue-faced Leicesters about these days were it not for the popularity and value of the Mule ewe he fathers.  And the Swale is one of the most prevalent hill sheep, certainly in these parts - and her only real use is to graze the Fells while producing either her own replacement or, in her later years, the valuable Mule ewe lamb.  And the Whitebred Shorthorn exists almost entirely to father the still very popular and valuable Blue Grey cow out of a Galloway... I could go on... ::) ;) :D

So if I had GFDs I would certainly experiment with crossing with Romneys and/or Exmoors - but I would most certainly not then backcross to infiltrate the pure breed, I would look at marketing the cross.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Small Farmer

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Bedfordshire
Re: Thought this might be of interest....
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2012, 07:48:23 pm »
We've crossed this year with a Southdown, so we'll see what happens.  I believe a current true GFD is quite a different looking sheep than one from a century ago.

Getting an Exmoor ram round here would be quite some effort (unless they have one at Whipsnade Zoo).  Which raises another point.  There is every reason for rare breed flocks to be close to each other for ease of genetic interchange and the provision of a support and information network.  There is equally every reason to keep gene pools as far as possible away from each other so that in case of ecological catastrophe (=foot & mouth) the damage is as limited as possible.
Being certain just means you haven't got all the facts

 

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