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Limping can be caused by injury or infection. Infection can be located in the hoof or the joints. Infection in the joints is called arthritis. Infection in the hoof can be several things. Footrot, or foot abscess are two foot diseases.

First determine which leg the lamb is limping on. In a disease called polyarthritis, the lamb may limp first on one leg and then on another. That is the one way to diagnose polyarthritis. Take the lamb's temperature. The normal temperature of a lamb is under 103. Remember, though, if you had to chase the lamb, his temperature will rise. It will also be high if he is standing in the hot sun.

Look at each foot to see if there is any evidence of cuts, scratches, or dog bites. Feel the joints to see of they feel swollen or hot. Compare the joint of one leg to that on the opposite leg to help you decide if it is normal or not.

If the joints aren't swollen or hot and you can't find a cut or injury, give him several days to see if the limping gets better. If not, take the lamb to your veterinarian.


The lamb will be reluctant to get up and move around. It may act stiff. If you force it to move around, it will gradually become less lame and stiff. If you watch it closely, it will seem to limp on one leg and then another. Its temperature will be over 104. It will usually eat if you make it get up and walk over to its feed trough.

The best treatment for this disease is the long acting tetracycline used as described for pneumonia. If sale time is within the month, however, another drug with a shorter withdrawal time should be chosen. Tylan 200 may be the best choice in that case. Check with your leader or veterinarian.


The foot of the leg that the lamb is limping on should be inspected and trimmed. If it is moist and has an extremely bad odor, it may be footrot, a very contagious disease caused by bacteria. The loose part of the foot should be carefully trimmed and the foot soaked in 10% zinc sulfate. Check with your leader or veterinarian on where to obtain the zinc. Separate the lamb from any others until foot is healed.

© James Suffolks

For more information please call us at (208)377-5430 or e-mail me.


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