8 March 1996

Calcium role at births

IF a ewes cervix fails to open properly at lambing, chances are she is short of calcium.

Half an hour after subcutaneously administering 40cc to 60cc of calcium borogluconate the cervix should relax, says Dr John Robinson from the SAC.

This situation can be avoided by ensuring big twin-bearing ewes receive 4-6.5g of calcium daily in the fourth and fifth months of pregnancy, respectively. Smaller ewes carrying singles require 2g to 3g over the same period. Lactating ewes require twice as much calcium compared with late pregnancy.

Avoiding stressful experiences such as changing the amount and hour of feeding and rapid exercise help prevent hypocalcaemia.

Symptoms include lack of co-ordination, muscular tremors and rapid breathing followed by the ewe falling on her side with her head and hind legs extended.

Older ewes are more susceptible as they are unable to mobilise bone calcium quickly enough to maintain blood concentrations.