Animal Health Professionals Site

9 September 2015

New on-farm sheep lameness control assessment tool will help pinpoint flock management weaknesses

MILTON KEYNES, UK, September 9, 2015 – UK sheep producers now have a straightforward way of evaluating the effectiveness of their lameness control strategy, thanks to the availability of a new flock assessment tool from MSD Animal Health (a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA.).

According to the company’s technical manager, John Atkinson MRCVS, the practical new ‘Lameness Control On-Farm Planner’ – developed in conjunction with FAI Farms – offers sheep farmers and their advisers a simple, yet highly visual ‘where are you now’ method of identifying whether a lameness management protocol is unbalanced in any way.

“The industry-accepted five-point sheep lameness reduction plan gives shepherds a clear management strategy and a practical protocol for reducing the incidence of this costly problem. However, it can be quite difficult to assess where you are sometimes with existing control approaches, but this new questionnaire-based tool will pinpoint areas of weakness. It is also designed to promote discussion between farmer and adviser over the best action plan for any given flock,” he says.

The assessment scores current farm practice within each of the five points that make up the sheep lameness reduction plan: culling; treatment; quarantine; avoidance and vaccination.

“Higher scores show you are doing well in those areas of the five point plan. Lower scores highlight the weaknesses and the areas you should focus on in future,” Mr Atkinson says.

In the example shown, two out of the five action points have been carried out well, but the lameness issue has not been reduced as much as was hoped, causing frustration. The outcome pentagon explains why, highlighting weaker implementation in terms of the culling and quarantine practices on the farm.

“This shows that if the farmer now focuses on improving culling and quarantine practices, plus a little extra attention to the treatment protocol, then the lameness situation within the flock should improve significantly,” Mr Atkinson explains.

Sheep producers interested in finding out more should contact their vet or local animal health adviser, who will help work through the lameness control planner.

Notes to editors:

  1. Developed by the independent research organisation FAI Farms, the five-point sheep lameness reduction plan is delivering substantial improvements on UK farms and is supported by AHDB Beef & Lamb.
  2. Implemented correctly, the five-point sheep plan builds a flock’s resilience to disease through culling persistently lame animals, reduces the infection challenge on the farm and establishes immunity through vaccination.

About MSD Animal Health

Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA., is the global animal health business unit of MSD. Through its commitment to theScience of Healthier Animals™, MSD Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. MSD Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit or connect with us on LinkedIn.

MSD forward-Looking Statement

This presentation includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of MSD’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; MSD’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of MSD’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

MSD undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in MSD’s 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (