14 June 1996

Abortion storm costly

MANY sheep producers are prepared to tolerate a 5% abortion rate in their flocks yet seem unaware that even such a low rate of infection can reduce gross margin by 10%.

Speaking at a flock health seminar in Lancaster this week, senior ADAS sheep specialist Lesley Stubbings said an abortion storm could have even greater financial consequences.

"The cost of a storm and the ensuing four years of infection will reduce income by £10.79 a ewe a year. That is a loss of 20% on margin for each of the five years spent coping with abortions," she said.

She urged flock owners to seek prevention through vaccination and reduced risk of infection. ADAS costings of a lowland flock showed that gross margins increased from £48.65 to £53.34 a ewe when abortion losses were reduced by 5%.

"A 10% abortion rate in a 100-ewe flock, putting the average lamb value at £40, means a loss in lamb sales of £400. But hidden costs of vet bills, medication and ewe replacement can add another £4.50 a ewe."