TIME4HOOFHEALTH: Are You Foot-bathing Your Sheep Effectively?

footbathing your sheep effectively

Stuart Stamper – Product Manager at Carr’s Billington – offers advice on effective foot-bathing to help support hoof health and subsequent production in sheep.

According to statistics from AHDB, lameness in sheep is said to cost U.K. sheep farmers an eye-watering £28 million every year, or £89.90 per ewe*.

Sheep seriously impacted by infectious conditions such as footrot or contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) are easy to spot because they hobble or ‘kneel’. However, even mild cases of the condition can impact production and spread quickly, so early and accurate detection and management is vital. Avoiding these conditions is especially important as we approach tupping time, as lame sheep at this time are less likely to produce lambs next spring.

Vaccination is a common means of preventing lameness caused by infectious disease, however with a potential Footvax® supply issue looming in 2022, sheep farmers are being advised to look at alternative methods of managing lameness.

Routine foot-trimming to help control lameness and promote better mobility is a common but incorrect management strategy. This can actually spread bacteria and exacerbate lameness prevalence within flocks.

This is also true of foot bathing unless it is carried out correctly. Gathering sheep for foot bathing alone can actually increases the risk of infection.

Foot bathing sheep should be integrated into part of a routine and thought of as a method of disinfection, rather than a stand-alone preventative operation. For example, after sheep have been gathered in a confined area following shearing or scanning.

How to achieve an effective foot-bathing protocol

For foot bathing to be effective, first and foremost it needs to be quick, easy and effective for busy operators to carry out.

If using a 10 percent zinc sulphate solution to manage footrot, sheep need to stand in the product for up to 30 minutes for it to be effective. In reality, simply walking-through a standing product is very ineffective and actually a money waster.

POWER HOOF™ – the latest hoof health range from Carr’s Billington – includes a footbath solution that offers highly effective infection prevention at a lower dosage.

We recommend sheep walk through slowly and calmly for 3-4 steps, then standing on a hard, clean and dry surface for approximately 20-30 minutes prior to being turned out onto pasture. For more effective prevention, hooves should be as dry and as clean as possible before walking through the foot bath.

One footbath of POWER HOOF will accommodate up to 1000 sheep, dependant on cleanliness.

Please be aware that POWER HOOF contains Copper and should therefore not be consumed by sheep and should be disposed of away from where animals will graze.


POWER HOOF footbath solution has been formulated by specialist eminent podiatrists to effectively disinfect and harden hooves at a lower dosage; promoting overall health, mobility and productivity. POWER HOOF is composed of ingredients that get into the wound and draw out the infection, rather than healing the outside for the internal infection to fester:

  • Formalin to improve claw quality and reduce the incidence of interdigital lesions.
  • Copper Sulphate to reduce the rate and severity of active digital dermatitis lesions.
  • Zinc to improve claw integrity to help reduce foot rot, heel cracks and interdigital dermatitis.
  • Heavy-duty surfactants which continue to adhere to and work on the hooves after foot bathing.
  • Contains no QUAT’s or antibiotics, helping to reduce the rate at which antibiotic resistance can occur on farm.

This unique composition makes POWER HOOF better for animals, healthier for humans, and safer for the environment.

To find out more and get your POWER HOOF on order today, call Stuart Stamper on 07977 394536, or contact your local country store or advisor.

TIME4DRILLING – Achieve grass reseeding success

TIME4DRILLING - Achieve reseeding success

The older a grass ley, the less productive ryegrass species it will have in it, and the less response you will get from any nitrogen applied.

Reseeding will ensure an increased yield, quality, and feed value, saving concentrate feed costs further down the line. So it is important to get reseeding right from the outset, to ensure the swards are established successfully and maximum productivity is achieved.

Read this handy reminder guide, put together by our grassland and forage crop product specialists, to make sure you’re fully prepared this year.

Understand soil composition

Grass establishment, and therefore reseeding or overseeding success, depends on soil type and nutrient status. Soil samples will determine the suitability of the fields for grass seed establishment and therefore whether additional inputs will be needed prior to drilling.

The ideal soil conditions prior to overseeding and reseeding are:

  • pH levels between 6-6.5 – this can greatly influence the availability of nutrients within the soil profile
  • Phosphorus and potassium levels at an index of two to make sure nutrients are readily available for root growth


When direct drilling grass seed, remember to check soil compaction first. Consider subsoiling if compaction levels are deeper than 23cm and aerating if levels are between 7-12cm to prevent root growth from being impeded. Click here for a soil structure scoring guide to assess soil compaction.

Choose your method

There are three main methods of reseeding:

  • Ploughing – conventional cultivation
  • Minimum cultivation (min till) – this involves desiccating old swards and lightly cultivating fields to create a fine, level seed bed
  • Direct drilling – no cultivation involved, grass seed is drilled directly into an existing ley that has been desiccated, grazed and harrowed

Ploughing is ideal for burying trash to help reduce competition with the new ley.

Minimum cultivation is generally carried out on fields that don’t have a heavy weed burden that would compete with the newly sown seed, and on wet fields that would suffer from subsoil compaction if ploughed. This method also reduces the risk of run-off and the release of sequestered carbon when compared to ploughing.

Direct drilling is a quick, cost-effective method that can be used to reseed or overseed leys. However, when overseeding there is a risk the grass seed may not effectively establish if competing with the old sward.

Create the optimal seed bed

After soil sampling, seed bed preparation is the next crucial step to consider when reseeding fields.

The two most important points to remember when sowing grass seed are:

  • Grass seed should be no more than 10mm below the surface for successfully germination
  • Rolling is crucial for good seed to soil contact to ensure germination

If conventional methods of reseeding are used, existing swards should be desiccated and left for 14 days before being ploughed, cultivated and stone picked.

The soil may then need to be pressed or rolled to create a smooth fine, firm, and level seed bed. A ‘fluffy’ seed bed will cause the seed to sit too deep, resulting in poor germination.

Once the seeds have been sown, consider rolling the field again in the opposite direction to increase seed to soil contact.

If direct drilling or minimum tillage is the approach, consider using a one pass machine that prepares the seedbed and improves seed to soil contact. Always assess the soil profile for compaction and consider aeration or subsoiling if required.

Don’t forget, if you need advice on which grass seed drilling machinery to use you can speak to one of our machinery specialists.
Find your nearest depot here.

Achieve grass reseeding success

Carefully select grass varieties

Grass varieties should be carefully chosen depending on the grassland production system and their compatibility with the soil type.

When carrying out a reseed, consider the whole sward structure as the grass seed selected and sward density will determine the long-term viability of the established sward.

For example, diploid ryegrass varieties are robust and ensure good ground cover, with their competitive tillering providing good carrying capacity for livestock.

In the case of overseeding, the aim is to choose grass varieties which will compete with the current grasses during establishment, for example tetraploid perennial ryegrass, hybrid ryegrass, or Italian ryegrass.

If reseeding or overseeding a drought-prone field, consider using deep rooted varieties such as Tall Fescues, Timothy, or Cocksfoot. Deep rooted grasses will also generally tolerate heavier soil types that can often be colder or more prone to waterlogging.

Legumes such as white and red clover can be included in the grass mixture to increase protein content of the sward and fix nitrogen.

If you’re unsure about which mixture to select, our comprehensive Grass and Forage Seed Catalogue provides a full range of our high performing Mega Leys grass mixtures.

For your FREE Grass & Forage Seed Catalogue 2022 please email forage@carrs-billington.com

Ring: Forage Line on 0800 023 4416

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