8 June 2001

Movement curbs make mastitis checks crucial

CHECKING ewes for mastitis before turning them away from holdings is vital this year because foot-and-mouth movement restrictions may prevent under-performing lambs from returning home.

Beds-based vet David Chennells has seen flocks where lambs are relying on grass rather than milk because their mothers have mastitis.

"Many producers have reported a higher incidence of mastitis in ewes this year which could be because they have remained indoors for longer, making detection easier."

While indoors, lambs from infected ewes have compensated for lack of milk by stealing milk from other ewes, he believes. "However, once ewes and lambs are turned out, it is less easy for lambs to steal milk so they eat grass which goes straight through them. They can also become dehydrated because they drink insufficient water."

The answer is to spot ewes with mastitis before turnout and not turn them away with twins. However, this advice may come too late for many flocks. "It may be necessary to catch under-performing lambs and rear them indoors, where possible. However, it is questionable whether this is a cost-effective option." &#42