Importance of footrot - a questionnaire in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Aim of this study was to quantify the relevance of footrot in sheep flocks from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and to determine applied prophylactic and treatments methods as well as their effectiveness. The questionnaire was published in national sheep journals and via internet from July until September 2010. Half of all participating sheep farmers (49%) held 13±8 ewes, 12±10 lambs, 5±4 teggs and 2±4 rams. Footrot was diagnosed in 70% of all sheep farms, whereas most of the sheep farmers (89%) diagnosed the disease by themselves. The prevalence within the sheep flocks was 36±31%. Characteristic symptoms were lameness (41%) as well as typical odour (12%). A predominant proportion of sheep farmers indicated that ewes are infected most frequently (83%) and that footrot is present especially in autumn (39%). Most sheep farmers treated infected sheep with claw trimming (91%). Foot bathing (83% vs. 57%; P<0.01) and vaccination (44% vs. 28%; P<0.05) are used significantly more frequently by farms with more than 50 ewes when compared to farms with less than 50 ewes. Irrespective of the method footrot treatment was quoted to cost the sheep farmer on average 9.25 Euro per sheep and year. Almost all sheep farmers (91%) implement prophylactic methods against footrot, whereas routinely claw trimming (87%) and quarantine of new sheep (44%) are the favoured prophylactic methods. According to the results of this study footrot is common in sheep flocks of the investigated countries. The sheep farmers' practical experiences stand mainly in accordance to findings in further publications regarding topics of footrot.