creep; sheep; fever

Small stock production: Your sheep and foot abscesses

Question: There’s a little hole between the 2 parts of my sheep’s hooves. If squeezed, something that looks like pus comes out. Is this an infection? And if it is, how should I treat it?

All sheep have a big gland that lies between the two parts of each hoof, which produces a thick, greasy substance that is yellowish and could be mistaken for pus.

This gland is perfectly normal and doesn’t usually give problems.

It is, however, quite common for sheep to be infected by foot abscesses. These are caused either by ticks or by long exposure to water and mud in summer.

The sheep becomes lame, and doesn’t want to use the affected leg. The skin above the hoof becomes swollen, hot, reddened and painful if squeezed.

Eventually, a spot on the skin becomes bare and opens to discharge thick yellow pus. This is usually on the outside of the hooves, but can also be between the 2 parts of the hoof.

This will take several weeks or months to heal. You could try to clean out the pus, but doing so could cause further infection. Injecting long-acting tetracycline antibiotics twice a week for 3 to 6 weeks could help the animal recover.

If the infection was caused by ticks, make sure that all your sheep are treated against ticks, either in a footbath or using a spot treatment on the feet.

Also read:
Footbath to stop foot rot in sheep and goats
Dips to control sheep scab and goat mange
Manage your goats – keep the worm and tick loads down

  • This article was written by Prof. Gareth bath and first appeared in farming SA.

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