Detection and Prevention of Footrot Outbreak in Sheep and Goats

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2014: $199,000.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2018
Grant Recipient: Lincoln University
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Tumen Wuliji
Lincoln University of Missouri

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: general animal production


    Footrot in small ruminants is an extremely contagious disease, and there is no effective vaccine available in the US. This program has developed an early detection, diagnosis, and monitoring scheme that has integrated with footrot preventive education, demonstration, and training in an effort to reduce seasonal outbreaks among small ruminants. Over the project period, 320 animal footrot swabs or hoof lesion specimens were collected for culture and bacterial identification. Footrot lesion swabs were collected in transportation broth culture tubes and subsequently inoculated on sheep blood agar culture plates in duplicate for both aerobic (incubators) and anaerobic (anaerobe chamber) bacterial isolates. Identification of about one thousand isolates resulted in significantly more aerobic species and subspecies (n = 74) than anaerobic bacterial species (n = 21). Most footrot and hoof infections in these inspections were caused by mixed species (both anaerobes and opportunistic aerobes). The bacterial species more frequently isolated from these lesion swabs were Staphylococcus Spp., Prevotella spp., Actinomyces spp., Fusobacterium spp., Spirochaeta spp., and Corynebacterium spp. Whereas, more virulent bacteria species, such as Dichelobacter nodosus was identified for less than 6% of inspected farms. Selected species, including Dichelobacter nodosus, Fusobacterium necrophorum, Prevotella spp., Porphyromonas spp., Bacteroides spp., and Spirochaeta spp. were also examined for antibiotic resistant assays. Field demonstrations and hands-on training activities (e.g., hoof trimming and foot-bathing) were conducted at Crowder College Farm (Neosho, MO) and Lincoln University’s Alan T. Busby Farm (Jefferson City, MO). The regular footrot outbreaks were effectively prevented using a frequent, preventive foot-bathing schedule, and no footrot outbreak was observed in treated animals throughout the seasons. Farmers’ participated in the project through hands-on learning, attending training workshop and field day demonstrations, and adopting good practices at their own farms. Following the developed project protocols, workshop participants performed animal foot inspections, foot health scoring, hoof trimming, and foot-bathing. Eighty percent of producer-participants stated they were confident and felt proficient to conduct these preventive operations and treatments on their own farms after attending the training workshops and lectures. The technical information and research progress results were provided to the general public, goat and sheep farmers, veterinarians, agriculture students, and other researchers via website, workshop, field day presentation, producers’ society newsletters, report, and conference. The milestones achieved over the project’s duration have enhanced small ruminant producers’ skills and knowledge significantly for the on-farm detection, prevention, and diagnosis of footrot disease outbreaks. The accomplishment of project has improved small ruminant farming sustainability and profitability and decreased footrot outbreak frequency, labor cost, and animal loss.


    Project objectives:

    The main purpose of this project is to organize farmers’ and producers’ training workshops for topics of small ruminant animal production, welfare, foot and hoof care, and demonstrate footrot prevention, treatment, and on-farm biosecurity protocol. Therefore, objectives of this project were (1) to develop early detection, diagnosis, and monitoring techniques for footrot outbreaks in small ruminants (goats and sheep); (2) to organize farmers’ and producers’ training workshops for small ruminant animal welfare, foot and hoof care, and on-farm biosecurity; and (3) to demonstrate footrot prevention, treatments, and management practices.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.