Lumpy wool, otherwise known as ‘dermo’ or mycotic dermatitis, is a skin condition caused by bacteria. Sheep generally carry this bacteria in an inactive form when the fleece and skin are dry, however, once moisture is present, the bacteria are released from scabs and become active.
Due to the ongoing wet weather, sheep have remained wet at skin level for extended periods, bringing with it a rise in the incidence of dermo. Treating dermo is very important, as it can cause significant issues with flystrike and a reduction in fleece quality and quantity.
Infection by the active bacteria causes inflammation of the skin, which then releases an exudate that forms scabs and the characteristic lumps in the wool. Wool will often matt, making the sheep very susceptible to flystrike when the wool becomes wet. Dermo is very contagious and can transferred from sheep to sheep. There are some strategies that can be utilised to reduce the risk of spread of the disease:
- Avoid prolonged yarding and/or situations where close contact occurs of wet sheep.
- If dipping, allow sheep to disperse immediately when they leave the dip.
- Using zinc sulphate in dip fluid at a rate of 4-5kg/1000L (0.5% in solution) can help cure established dermatitis infections. This rate can be increased to 1% if required for higher levels of infection. Ensure that zinc sulphate is compatible with other additives to the dipping fluid.
- Remove infected sheep from the mob to reduce incidence of blowfly strike. Fly control options should be considered.
Severely infected sheep can be treated with antibiotics to lift scabs, however this is only recommended for sheep that would die if left untreated, or if close to shearing. Your local veterinarian should be contacted for antibiotic treatment.
Don’t let dermo reduce your production! Come and talk to our Animal Production Specialists about the best solution for you.