5 January 1996

High cost of ewe death

EACH ewe that dies around lambing time costs £70 to £80 when the cost of her replacement is added to lamb losses or increased rearing costs for lambs that survive.

This is the message from Signet consultant John Bennett. He estimates that for a ewe which dies before lambing the loss of 1.5 lambs is worth £60. But even when progeny survive the cost of rearing is equal to the initial value of lambs – although there will be a small saving in ewe feed reducing the cost to around £50/dead ewe.

In addition there are the costs for replacing the ewe at an average of £15, removal of a carcass at £8, and the loss of wool at £2. In some cases sheep annual premium may also be lost when mortality reduces flock size below the sheep quota level.

Mr Bennett suggests ewe mortality can be reduced by keeping up-to-date with flock vaccinations for clostridial diseases (see p27) and other farm specific problems such as pneumonia. He also advises strict culling on body condition, teeth and udders at weaning and pre-tupping. "Feeding should be monitored carefully in late pregnancy to reduce the risk of pregnancy toxaemia, prolapse and staggers," he says.