New figures have shown that measures taken on-farm before tupping time can have a significant impact on increasing lamb output the following year.
Diagnostic data from the Wales Veterinary Science Centre (WVSC) for 2017 revealed that Enzootic Abortion (EAE) is still the most common cause of infectious abortion in sheep flocks in Wales. EAE can result in abortion during the last three weeks of gestation or the birth of weak lambs that die soon after birth. Where a diagnosis of infectious abortion was made, EAE accounted for 37, followed by toxoplasmosis at 18%. Schmallenberg virus infection accounted for 6% of lamb losses.
According to vets, prevention is best addressed by vaccination. The cost of vaccination is more than offset by the income from greater numbers of healthy lambs being born and the cost of barren ewes, therefore farmers are being encouraged to consult their vet to plan a vaccination policy in time for the next lambing season.
Gwawr Parry, Industry Development Officer for Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) says: “The most effective time to vaccinate is six weeks before tupping, so this is the perfect opportunity for farmers to review their flock health strategies.”
Jonathan King, Veterinary Investigation Officer at the WVSC, confirmed that “37% of the abortions diagnosed at the WVSC were attributed to EAE this year. Vaccination remains the best preventative measure.”
“To minimise losses, this is the perfect opportunity to MOT the whole flock before tupping - teeth, udders, feet and Body Condition Score – and to talk to vets about a vaccination plan,” he added.
“Losses that are being left untested could cost hundreds of pounds. More time spent now will prevent unnecessary work at lambing when time is always scarce, and increase returns for farm businesses.”