Why You Need To Be Concerned About Foot-And-Mouth Disease

If you're under the impression that there’s no need to worry about foot-and-mouth disease affecting your shoeing business, you’re wrong.

While the virus only affects cloven hoofed animals such as cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, bison, llamas, deer and elk, European farriers know the disease has a tremendous impact on shoeing work.

In 1,362 cases that had been found in Great Britain as of mid-April, 3.7 million animals had been buried, burned or were waiting to be destroyed.

Saw The Disease Firsthand

Some 30 years ago, I witnessed the ravages of foot-and-mouth disease during a trip to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Laboratory located off the eastern end of New York’s Long Island. Just 4 hours after a Holstein calf was inoculated with foot-and-mouth virus, it had all the disease symptoms.

Later that year, I participated in a mock foot-and-mouth exercise that saw the disease spread from a Tennessee farm into 23 states in only 5 days.

Spread by animals, birds, manure, vehicles, clothing, tools and the wind, the fast-spreading virus can quickly make all animals in an exposed herd sick. Unfortunately, there is no treatment.

While animals can be vaccinated against the disease, the preferred method is to destroy exposed animals located within a certain radius of infected herds.

No Shoeing Work

“As a result of this disease problem in Great Britain, we have farriers who have not shod a horse in more than 8 weeks,” says Mark Caldwell of Brooks Lane Smith Ltd., in Middlewich, England. “Foot-and-mouth…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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