Costs of the major endemic diseases of sheep in Great Britain and the potential benefits of reduction in disease impact

GJ Nieuwhof, SC Bishop

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The costs of three major endemic sheep diseases in Great Britain, gastro-intestinal (GI) parasites, footrot and scab, were estimated and compared with costs for other diseases from another study. Disease costs include lost performance, preventive measures and treatment of affected animals. The most costly disease, of those studied, for the British sheep industry is infestation with GI parasites, with estimated annual costs of 84 pound million. Annual costs for the other two diseases are 24 pound million for footrot and 8 pound million for sheep scab. This compares with literature estimates of 20 pound million for Chlamydial abortions and 12 pound million for toxoplasmosis. For sheep scab most costs are for preventive measures, therefore, short of eradication, a reduction in incidence will have a limited effect on costs. For GI parasites, costs are linearly related to the severity of the infestation and a reduction of the disease will have a proportional effect on the costs to the industry. For footrot about half the costs are for preventive measures, the other half is for lost production and treatment. A reduction in the incidence of footrot has a proportional effect on the 10 pound million associated with loss of production and treatment of infected animals. It is concluded that gastro-intestinal parasites and footrot are two sheep diseases in Britain for which a reduction of severity or incidence will have a large impact on costs of production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal science
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


  • disease prevention
  • economics
  • performance
  • sheep

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