1 December 1995

Assess sheep before sending

ASSESSING sheep condition is increasingly important, particularly before transport.

Any disability when livestock reach market could result in prosecution, warned David Henderson of the Moredun Foundation, Aberdeen.

Demonstrating how to assess sheep condition and fitness, he told showgoers: "If a sheep is not fit to stand unaided due to injury, foot-rot or disease you will be liable to prosecution. It is better to write off the cost of an animal and destroy it on farm using an approved method rather than risk a fine by taking it to market."

On condition scores for lambing, Dr Henderson advised that stable scores should be the aim through the first six to eight weeks of pregnancy.

"Any changes will affect hormone levels, reducing egg implantation and increasing embryo loss." It is, however, acceptable to lose up to half a condition score during pregnancy.

, and at eight weeks pre-lambing thin ewes should be pulled out and fed to achieve condition scores of 2.5-3 at lambing.

"Check for respiratory diseases (discharge from eyes and nose), signs of worm burden and check the teats for signs of chronic mastitis.

"When buying in stock scab is now of utmost importance. Tremendous care is needed when examining the fleece. There should be no breaks. In its early stages all that may be apparent is some restlessness and some tilting of the head," he said.

David Henderson of the Moredun Foundation explains the importance of assessing sheep fitness.