The effect of footrot on body weight and wool growth of sheep
Body weight and traits associated with production of wool were measured over a 2-year period between 1985 and 1987 in south-western New South Wales in a flock of Merino wethers experimentally infected with footrot. The disease was allowed to spread freely amongst 150 of the flock but kept at very low prevalence in the remaining 50 by preventive footbathing during transmission periods.
Severe, underrunning footrot had a significant adverse effect on body weight, for each year of the trial. Body weight was most severely reduced at times of the year when footrot was spreading among animals and lesions were severe. The mean body weight of the infected group at the end of the 2 years of observation was 7.3 kg (11.6%) below that of the control group. Footrot also depressed wool growth, with the mean clean fleece weight of the infected group being 0.4 kg (8%) lighter than that of the controls at each of the 2 annual shearings. There were no consistent differences between the groups for the other wool characteristics measured.