Demonstration Site Project - Tynyberth

Life without lameness


Project aims:

With the importance of reducing the proportion of animals in the Welsh national flock that are lame at any time, Jack Lydiate has decided to tackle lameness at Tynyberth by implementing the 5-point lameness plan which has been developed by vets and in-conjunction with practical farm experiences. The 5-point plan tackles lameness in a variety of ways: prompt treatment, isolation of affected animals, culling, good bio-security and vaccination.

Strategic objectives:

  • Improving animal health and welfare
  • Improve business resilience
  • Enhance production efficiencies
  • Reduce the use of antibiotics
  • Improved productivity and cost management

Project in practice:

  • In-conjunction with strategic advice from the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) and the farms own vet, a whole-flock lameness reduction plan will be put in place using the principles of the 5-point plan.
  • The levels and severity of lameness in the flock will be monitored over a 12 month period.
  • Acting as baseline data a representative sample of ewes will be individually examined and scored for the presence of disease, cause and its severity. This will take place prior to tupping and will be repeated again at the end of the project at a similar time of year.
  • Following on from the initial data collection exercise, a monthly visit will monitor flock lameness levels (absence or presence of lameness). This will be carried out in-conjunction with the farmer and at the same time treatment records for the previous month will be collected.
  • Also recorded will be whole flock antibiotic use, any footbathing carried out, ewes culled for lameness, labour associated with treatments given and any relevant production data.

Project update:

  • At the beginning of the project which started in September this year, just over 10% of ewes in the breeding flock were lame with a particularly high proportion of lameness in the yearlings.
  • Jacks farm vet examined the sheep and prescribed an appropriate antibiotic. Jack proceeded to treat affected ewes early and to isolate them until cured.
  • All breeding ewes were vaccinated and the tag numbers of those with infectious causes of lameness have been recorded with a view to cull repeat offendors. This approach has already payed off. Four weeks after the plan was implemented less than 10% of ewes in the flock were lame and 2 months later this was down to less than 5%.
  • Traditionally lameness has increased on housing so the emphasis from now on will be putting plans in place which minimise the infection rates in the flock and practical ways of quickly treating and isolating any animals which do become affected before lambing. Jack has already noted how much better the ewes are and their condition has improved over the tupping period.


Prior to the start of the project, the lameness incidence at Tynyberth was just over 10% of the whole flock.  Since adopting the 5 point plan, the lameness levels have now dropped to under 1% which has improved flock efficiency and reduced labour demands. 


Key messages:

  • Implementing the five-point plan at Tynyberth has proven very successful indeed where a target of less than 5% lameness was reached within the first 2 months of its introduction.
  • It is likely that implementation of all elements of the 5-point plan are required to achieve sustained reductions in levels of lameness. However, the success of a number of farms implementing the 5-point plan shows that lameness reduction is achievable within a relatively short time scale but does require long-term commitment in order to sustain success.

Click here for project overview and result.


Project Updates:

Project Review - Tynyberth

Article: Forestry scheme secures sustainable future for Welsh hill farm

Technical Publication (Issue 17, page 2): Introduction