Act quickly to curb spread of mastitis
Careful hygiene together with prompt action can prevent this and other infectious diseases from curbing flock performance
Lambing time is a crucial period on the sheep farm and is an area where health issues can dictate the relative success or failure of the flock performance.
One of the most common health problems at lambing is mastitis in the ewe.
Mastitis occurs when an infection gets into the udder and develops within. Because the udder is full of milk it is an ideal place for bacteria to grow and invade the surrounding tissues.
Prompt treatment with cow tubes can, on rare occasions, save the affected udder but in most cases the affected quarter is lost and, in extreme cases with E coli or gangrene mastitis, the ewe herself may succumb to the infection.
Hygiene around and after lambing is critical in reducing the incidence and spread of mastitis. Indoors, plenty of straw and frequent applications of cubicle lime will help to reduce the level of infection in the environment.
Once a case is identified, prompt treatment with antibiotics (under veterinary advice) should be instigated. With E coli or gangrene infection, the ewe may need to be put on a drip to help flush out the toxins if she is not to die from blood poisoning.
Issues such as orf can also have a big impact on the levels of mastitis experienced in the flock.
Lambs infected with orf can infect the ewes around the udder. This will make the udder sore and the affected ewe will not allow the lamb to suck, thereby further increasing the risk of infection.