Flock health plans hold the key to reducing lamb mortality
Lamb mortality impacts on ewe productivity (number of lambs reared per ewe joined) and farm profitability.
It is estimated that each 1pc change in lamb mortality nationally is valued at approximately €3m.
When does lamb mortality occur
Most lamb mortality occurs within the first few days after birth.
A recent study at Athenry has identified the timing of neonatal lamb mortality (died with seven days of birth) and the data is presented in Figure 1.
- 52pc of lambs died prior to, or at birth.
- 21pc of lamb mortality occurred between birth and 24 hours of age.
Causes of lamb mortality
The causes of lamb mortality are presented in Figure 2. Infection and dystocia were the two main causes of lamb mortality, accounting for 38pc and 15pc, respectively.
Accidents accounted for 8pc of lamb mortality.
The cause of death was not identified in 28pc of the lambs that died. The results of this study clearly show that infection and dystocia, both of which are potentially preventable, are the main causes of lamb mortality.
A recent survey undertaken by Dwayne Shiels as part of his PhD studies, in conjunction with the National Farm Survey, has concluded that many farmers do not implement best practices prior to and during lambing on their farms.