The association between foot temperature and hoof lesions in sheep

Louise Eyre, Zoë J. Huggett, Kimberley R. Slinger, Christina Siettou, Matt J. Bell

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Lameness, predominantly caused by footrot and interdigital dermatitis, is a common issue in sheep flocks with negative consequences for animal welfare and productivity. Simple and cheap methods to prevent and monitor lameness are desirable to decrease prevalence within flocks. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a high foot temperature threshold can be used as an early warning for the development of hoof lesions and lameness in sheep. A flock of 47 pregnant ewes and seven non-pregnant ewe lambs were randomly allocated into two equal groups and placed in two different but similar permanent pasture fields for the duration of the study. Foot temperature was measured with a temperature probe placed on the interdigital skin on three dates over approximately 4 weeks. This study showed that increased foot temperature was associated with higher lesion scores (recorded lesions covered a scale of 0 to 3), with healthy feet having a mean temperature of 20°C and feet with severe lesion scores having a mean temperature of 31°C. Also, back feet had a higher foot temperature and lesion score than front feet (P
Original languageEnglish
Article number104606
JournalLivestock Science
Early online date26 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Sheep
  • Hoof
  • Health
  • Lesions
  • Temperature


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