Talking points for sheep farmers

Across our clinics, the discussion through March and into April has been facial eczema.

Spore counts for much of the season were relatively low and when the warm rain came these counts peaked. For farms short on green feed, stock were grazing low and spore intake was high.

One of the misconceptions around facial eczema is that low spore counts of 5,000 to 15,000 are not dangerous. The truth is that if stock are being exposed regularly but at low levels during the risk season, the toxic effect on the liver is accumulative and then when the higher peak occurs, the clinical result is severe.

This is yet another season for widespread disease and the conclusion is that routine prevention for facial eczema is cheap insurance. There are lots of options from zinc in the water system (cattle), zinc boluses, fungicide treatment of pasture and for the longer term, breeding resistance into the flock.

In our sheep flocks we have been seeing instances of poor lamb growth if drenching for Barbers Pole slipped. Be aware of Trichostrongylus outbreaks during the autumn. Following the Barber’s Pole drench consider using a knockout drench in the lambs, e.g. ZolvixTM Plus or Startectâ to ensure that surviving resistant worms are not being laid down on to the pasture.

With tupping underway, keep feed levels up for the ewes and hoggets over the first 45-50 days of mating. This is important for successful embryo implantation and then you can gradually reduce feed levels to maintenance.  Assessing pasture covers and having the winter feed budget plan in place will either provide you with comfort that you can go through to the spring or identify if there is a need to alter the management plan.

Salmonella and an autumn flush of pasture often go together; be on the look-out for the first sign of sudden deaths.  Salmonella vaccination is a cheap and effective insurance.  Our large animal team are happy to provide further advice.


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