Economic impact of footrot in the fine wool industry in New Zealand and uptake of the Footrot Gene Marker Test (FGMT)


  • Johanna Abbott
  • Glen Greer
  • John Bates
  • Chris Frampton
  • Jon Hickford


Footrot is a highly significant problem in the New Zealand fine wool industry. As part of an investigation into improving the treatment and control of footrot, an extensive survey of New Zealand fine wool producers was carried out in 2004. Commercial wool growers were asked to assess the economic impact of footrot on their properties. The study also reports farmersÂ’ perceptions of a recently introduced gene marker test, the Footrot Gene Marker Test, which identifies sheep that are genetically more tolerant to footrot for breeding purposes. Questionnaires were returned by 45.1% of New Zealand merino growers and 62.5% of mid-micron growers. The survey found that 65.2% of merino respondents and 55.2% of mid-micron respondents had experienced footrot during the survey period (2001-2004). Footrot was ranked in the top three most serious animal health threats by 79.5% of merino and 59.8% of mid-micron respondents. The total cost of footrot on surveyed farms in 2003/4, including direct costs of footrot prevention and control and production losses, was found to be NZ$1.82 million on merino properties and NZ$1.19 million on mid-micron properties. The Footrot Gene Marker Test was used by 87% of the breeders of merino and mid-micron rams and 90% of the breeders intended to continue using the test on stud sires. Footrot gene marker test scores are included in ram selection criteria by 24.7% of New Zealand commercial merino and 20.2% of mid-micron growers.