24 April 1998

Chapped udder risk

MASTITIS and chapped udders are increasing concerns in ewes as wet, cold weather continues and producers are urged to keep a close eye on flocks to ensure early detection.

Sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings warns that current weather conditions mean many ewes have mud splashed udders, leading to chapping and mastitis. "When ewes udders are sore they are unlikely to let lambs suckle, and once they have developed mastitis there is little you can do."

Be vigilant, she says. "Mastitis is difficult to spot, particularly in a field situation, but the key to control is catching it early.

"The first symptom is increased temperature, but this is obviously easy to miss.

Look for ewes which are not at the trough, are slow, stiff or appear a little lame. If a ewe is off colour the best policy is to assume she has mastitis."

Where ewes are suffering from mastitis, treat with an antibiotic as recommended by your vet. "Some producers are also using udder salve, but this is labour intensive."

Royal Vet College sheep specialist Rose Grogono Thomas warns that speedy treatment is vital. "Early treatment is necessary, and will help save the ewe but she will invariably lose the infected teat."