Flystrike is a term used to indicate animals affected by fly offspring. Flies will seek out moist and warm spots on an animal to lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the resulting maggots will start eating away at the nearest flesh; this is a very painful condition.
Flystrike is mainly known in sheep, because their fleece gives plenty of hiding spots for warm and moist areas that flies love. However, it has been seen in other species as well such as goats, dogs and cats, as well as sheep that have been shorn. Wounds, footrot and diarrhoea are three situations that create the perfect environment for flies to deposit their eggs.
Spotting flystrike can be quite difficult, especially in sheep covered with wool or if the affected spot is in an area not easily visible. This is why, unfortunately, it often goes unnoticed, until the affected animal starts to deteriorate. Symptoms will then show such as:
• Anorexia (loss of appetite)
• Weight loss
• Death in severe cases
Naturally, it is important to treat flystrike as soon as possible. The area that has been affected needs to be cleaned (clipped or trimmed if necessary) and sprayed with antibiotic spray. If an animal is sick, it will likely need an antibiotic injection and some tender loving care.
Prevention is possible through shearing, dipping (treatment to deter flies) and treating other health issues at the earliest opportunity so there is no chance for flies to infest.
Footrot is an infection that occurs between the claws on split-hoofed animals, mainly in sheep, goats and cattle (but also deer, alpaca, pigs). Footrot is often seen following a period of prolonged rainfall, when the ground has softened and consequently the soft tissue between the claws is weakened. When damage occurs to this weakened tissue (by stepping on a stone or through wear and tear), bacteria can invade causing foot rot.
Footrot is very painful and causes severe lameness. Most animals affected will be favouring the affected foot, which will appear red and swollen and feels hot to touch.
For sheep and goats, topical antibiotic application is often sufficient, unless a foot is badly affected. However in cattle, injectable antibiotics might be necessary. It is best to discuss this with your Vet.
Footbaths can help when there is an outbreak or as a prevention. The product most commonly used is Copper sulphate. There is also a vaccine available for sheep. This doesn’t completely prevent foot rot, but will help reduce severity in case of an outbreak.
Another big worry in summer in the North Island is facial eczema, a disease caused by fungal spores. There are several detailed articles on facial eczema on our website, please have a read to ensure you that you have the knowledge to ensure you have the right prevention in place for your stock.