Orf is caused by a type of virus that enters the skin, either from the soil or from infected animals, through cuts and abrasions. The symptoms include sores around the mouth, nose and feet; these can then spread to the udder and vulva.

A severe case of orfA severe case of orf in a lamb. Photo: Colorado State University

A live vaccine is available to prevent orf but, obviously, if you don’t have orf on your holding using the live vaccine will introduce it. Feed licks are available that help to reduce the incidence of orf.

If a sheep is identified with orf, biosecurity is very important as orf is a zoonose i.e. it can be transmitted to humans.

When handling sheep with orf, wear gloves and avoid touching your face.

There are various treatments – spraying the affected areas with Terramycin. There are also oral treatments that can be given. Affected animals will benefit from being isolated and receiving a bit of TLC.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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