11 April 1997

Move to milky ewes means mastitis is on the increase

By Jonathan Riley

ACUTE mastitis in ewes is increasing year on year as producers breed ewes for higher milk production and gear feeding regimes to maximise this potential.

Shropshire vet Clive Norrell says that improved feeding regimes and the selection of milkier ewes means that milk levels exceed the lambs requirements, allowing milk to go stale in the udder.

"This then becomes infected – often with a staphylococcus bacterium – and mastitis occurs."

Mr Norrell explains that the danger periods are when ewes are housed on dirty, wet bedding which allows the bug to multiply and, more significantly, at weaning.

"The practice of weaning must be changed to suit this more milky ewe. Currently on commercial farms weaning is too abrupt and no protection is given for the ewe during the dry period," he says.

Ensure bedding is dry and clean for housed ewes to avoid mastitis risks.


SHEEP: WATCH FOR


&#8226 Mastitis, metritis.

&#8226 Hypomagnesaemia.

&#8226 Lamb scour and coccidiosis.