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Heal it, don’t seal it – lameness costs me up to €8 per sheep

Lameness can have devastating effects for your herd if it is not treated correctly. We spoke to sheep farmer John Thomas who has seen some excellent results upon using JFC’s Premium Hoof Solution and foam footbath.

John Thomas and his wife Sharon run a commercial flock of 140 ewes in Easky, Co. Sligo. “We moved to Sligo from Wales almost two years ago. We’ve got a really good mix of breeds in the flock; Rouge cross Beltex, pure Rouge, there’s pure and cross bred Suffolk ewes and there’s also Texel cross Lleyn ewes. When I moved here from Wales two years ago, I also brought 14 purebred Texel ewes and a ram.”

“My wife and I only keep sheep. We started off with 33 acres and are now farming 66 acres. We were fortunate to be able to buy three flocks of sheep with lambs. We are constantly growing and improving the farm.”

John operates a closed herd to minimise the potential of disease entering his flock. “I breed and keep my own replacements so that I know exactly what they’ve had and it’s one of the most effective ways to control viruses and diseases.”

John had been looking for a product that would treat lameness in his herd as it was becoming an increasing problem, so he started using JFC Sheep Hoof Solution on his flock this year and has seen some really positive results, “Last spring we went to the Balmoral Show. We were thinking about buying a mat to go in a footbath because it’s easier on the sheep, they don’t see the solution or the water. We talked to Brendan Morrin in JFC about what we were looking for. Upon speaking to the team, we decided to use JFC Premium Hoof Solution for sheep and foam footbath and haven’t looked back since.”

JFC Premium Hoof Solution for Sheep

JFC Premium Hoof Solution is a mineral based product that is formulated to keep the pH very low in the footbath. By keeping the pH low in the footbath, it allows the solution to kill and disrupt the bacteria present on the animal’s hoof.

JFC Premium Hoof Solution is highly concentrated, meaning that its cost per animal is very competitive in comparison to other products on the market. Because the pH is kept lower for a longer period of time, we are seeing great results using JFC Premium Hoof Solution.

JFC offer both a dairy and a sheep premium hoof solution which is mineral based.

The benefits

John believes that there are many benefits in using JFC Premium Hoof Solution for sheep, “I find it a lot better than using Formaldehyde based products as they tend to harden the foot and seal the problem inside, whereas JFC Premium Hoof Solution heals the foot. Once you start using the product it really doesn’t take long to start working.”

“There’s no Formaldehyde in JFC Premium Hoof Solutions which means that it easy to use.  I used to use Formaldehyde based products about 10 years ago. The vet came out to the farm one day to look at rams that I was going to show. One of the rams was lame and he said the first thing I needed to do was to stop using Formaldehyde based products as that was the reason that the ram was not getting any better.”

“For me another key benefit is that once you have got your flock to a point where there is no lameness, you save a lot of time. I save a lot of man hours, running them through the footbath less frequently. The health of the sheep is a lot better. Lamb production is a lot better too. There’s less stress on the animal when they are healthy.”

Frequency & Concentration

For optimum results, John has a very specific approach for his herd, “When I first starting using JFC Premium Hoof Solution, I footbathed the flock every day for four days. I then went to every third day, then once a week. Now I footbath them when they come in to be dosed. In 50 litres of water, I put in 2 litres of JFC Sheep Hoof Solution. I then top the mat up after 70 sheep. Once they are treated we reduce the concentration to 2%.”

JFC Foam Footbath

In addition to using JFC Premium Hoof Solution for sheep, John also uses JFC’s Sheep Foam Footbath. “The foam footbath is much easier to use. The ewes and lambs don’t mind running through when they can’t see the solution and water, just the mat. You don’t have to push, you don’t have to shove and it’s a lot easier.”

“The mat is easy to clean if the sheep drag in any dirt on their feet, especially when the fields are wet and mucky. I’ve also noticed that there isn’t near as much splashing as the flock pass through, which means that there is much less wasted or spilled when using the conventional footbath.”

JFC Customer Service

When it comes to first class customer service, John believes that JFC are the best in the business and look after your every need, “They are absolutely brilliant. I really couldn’t fault them whatsoever, it’s a shame all companies are not like them.”

“JFC Sheep Hoof Care has drastically improved the performance of the herd. I have and will continue to recommend both the sheep hoof solution and the foam footbath as I feel that they are both excellent products that guarantee positive results.”

“One big thing that I have noticed since coming to Ireland almost 2 years ago now is that farmers worry massively about money. JFC Sheep Hoof Solution is value for money. It is definitely value for money, as If I had to pay somebody to treat the problem it would cost significantly more than the prevention. My aim is to increase the size of the flock to 400 ewes. When I get to this number, I won’t have time to treat sheep with footrot. The prevention is always better than the cure.”

James McGrath is JFC’s on-farm Hoof Health expert for Ireland.  James provides practical solutions for the issues that farmers are faced with on a daily basis.

Cost of Lameness

John believes that the cost of lameness is huge, even if it is only for a short period of time, “If lameness goes untreated in the herd it is a massive cost. As a sheep farmer, if I’ve got lambs in the spring going lame, it would hold them back about three weeks, costing me roughly up to €8 per sheep. This is factoring in cost of grass, bought in feed and reduced production levels. If that lamb is not lame he is getting fatter quicker and he is gone to the factory earlier. But if he is lame, it takes him that extra time, he eats extra grass and feed to get him ready for the factory. If the ewe goes lame, milk production goes down. If milk production of the ewe goes down, meat production of the lamb goes down as a result.”

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