Footrot 'Vrotpootjie' in Angora Goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Tuesday, 18th April 2017

Footrot, also called ’Vrotpootjie’, must not be confused with a foot abscess, also called ‘Sweerklou’, in Angora goats.

‘Sweerklou’ is seen much more commonly in Angora goats in the extensive and dry areas of the karoo and results in a swelling then develops above the hoof margins. The digit is markedly swollen and can burst open with discharging pus.  

See info on ‘Sweeklou’ on our website for more info on ‘sweerklou’.



Footrot, ‘Vrotpootjie’ (photo the  Footabscess , ‘Sweerklou’ (photo M.Hobson)


 Footrot, ‘vrotpootjie’, on the other hand involves the infection of the hoof  caused by Dichelobacter nodosus resulting in the separation of the hoof horn from the soft tissue of the foot. Footrot may occasionally be seen in Angora goats grazing in wet conditions such as on irrigated lands.

The interdigital skin is reddened and inflamed, with a moist exudate and some sloughing of the skin at the skin-horn junction. These lesions consistent with footrot. (


What is the cause of footrot?

Predisposing factors along with infection by Dichelobacter nodosus are needed for footrot to develop. Secondary bacteria may invade the primary lesion.

A carrier goat is usually the cause of the introduction of the condition. Dichelobacter nodosus usually cannot survive for longer than 7-14 days in soil and faeces. Goats recovering from footrot may remain carriers for up to 3 years.


What are some of the predisposing factors?

  • Warm conditions (>10C), moisture (high rainfall conditions or irrigated pastures)
  • Penetrations of the foot by white bankrupt worms, ticks and grass seeds may help Dichelobacter nodosus gain entry.
  • Interdigital dermatitis (irritation of the inter digital skin)
  • Heavier goats (rams and pregnant ewes)
  • Young goats with poorer immune system


How do the clinical signs develop?

First signs:

  • Moistening of the skin in interdigital space. This is when it is difficult to distinguish footrot from interdigital dermatitis.
  • A break then develops between the horn and the skin of the hoof with the infection getting under the hoof.
  • Necrosis (dying) of layers of the epididymis leading to detachment of horn of hoof
  • A foul smelling small amount of discharge
  • Lameness then becomes severe and the goat may carry one leg and may walk on its knees.

Development of footrot (Drawing  infovets)



Diagnosis is made on clinical examination

  • separation of the horn tissue of the sole and wall
  • characteristic smell

Samples can be taken for smears and culture.




Separate infected goats from the flock into 3 groups: No, mild and severe clinical signs.

Clean and trim the hoof.

Keep infected goats on a dry surface (ideal would be a dry cement floor).


Topical treatment (footbath)

  • Contact time of 1-2 minutes in the very early stages but in advance disease up to 30 minutes may be required.
  • Footbath every 1-2 weeks with Zinc Sulphate (10% solution).

Formalin 5% can be used as a footbath but is not advised due to severe irritation of the skin which may also predispose to infection- rather use Zinc sulphate.

After the footbath the hooves must be allowed to dry (an hour on dry surface)


It is a good idea to wash the mud off the hooves to reduce contamination and dirt in the footbath. The hooves can be washed with water (hosepipe) before the footbath to prevent it becoming dirty and contaminated.


  • Long acting tetracycline or penicillin.


Cure rates are usually about 80% under dry conditions.

Goats not responding should be culled as genetics plays a role.



Minimise wet areas such as around troughs, kraals.

Allow lands a period of rest (at least 4 weeks)

Supplement trace minerals and Vits (Zn and Vit A),

Adequate nutrition

Cull infected goats (become carriers)

(In New Zealand a vaccine is available)



 Kleinveesiektes, 1994, De Wet J en Bath, G. Tafelberg-uitgewers Bpk., ISBN 0624032035.

The sheep heath,disease and Production. D.West, A.Bruere, A.Ridler


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