Naming and recognition of six foot lesions of sheep using written and pictorial information: a study of 809 English sheep farmers

Prev Vet Med. 2008 Jan 1;83(1):52-64. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2007.06.003. Epub 2007 Aug 3.


In 2005, 3000 questionnaires were sent to a random sample of English sheep farmers from a list kept by the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) to investigate whether farmers could correctly name six common foot lesions in sheep from a characteristic picture and a written description. The lesions were interdigital dermatitis (ID), footrot (FR), contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD), shelly hoof, foot abscess and toe granuloma. In addition, farmers were asked to report the total percent of lame sheep in their flock in 2004 and the percent of this lameness attributable to each of the six lesions listed above. The overall response percentage was 44 with a useable response of 32%. Fifty-nine farmers out of 262 (23%) who answered all six questions named all six lesions correctly. This was greater than expected by chance. The same questionnaire of six lesions was presented at a meeting of specialist sheep advisors, primarily veterinarians, 37/47 (79%) responders named all six lesions correctly. From the six lesions listed above, the percent correctly named by farmers was approximately 83%, 85%, 36%, 28%, 65% and 43% and the percent incorrectly attributed to another lesion was 5%, 47%, 10%, 13%, 35% and 7%, respectively. The most commonly used incorrect name was FR, with farmers tending to name any hoof horn lesion as FR. A comparison of the distribution of sheep lame by a lesion correctly named compared with the same lesion incorrectly named as FR suggested that farmers recognised lesions but did not name them correctly; the distribution of lameness fitted the pattern for the correctly named lesion rather than the pattern of lameness attributed to FR. The results were validated with farm visits and a repeatability study of the questionnaire. The mean farmer-estimated prevalence for all lameness was 10.4%; with 6.9%, 3.7%, 2.4%, 1.9%, 0.9% and 0.8% of the sheep lame with ID, FR, CODD, shelly hoof, foot abscess and toe granuloma respectively from respondents who correctly named these lesions. Whilst ID and FR were the most prevalent causes of lameness in most flocks it is possible that in up to 17% flocks the primary cause of lameness was a different lesion.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / standards*
  • Animal Husbandry / statistics & numerical data
  • Animals
  • England / epidemiology
  • Foot Diseases / epidemiology
  • Foot Diseases / prevention & control
  • Foot Diseases / veterinary*
  • Humans
  • Lameness, Animal / pathology
  • Prevalence
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sheep Diseases / etiology
  • Sheep Diseases / pathology
  • Sheep Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires