22 March 2002

Unseen entropion in newborn lambs

By FWlivestock reporters

MANY lambs are being left to suffer with in-turned eyelids as the subtle symptoms go unnoticed, believes a Shrops sheep vet.

Chris Lewis explains that the condition, entropion, is relatively common. It is thought to be mainly hereditary and is seen in pedigree and crossbred flocks, although other factors may have an effect.

But symptoms are often missed in newborn lambs. These include reddening of the eye and a cloudy eyeball.

"Newborn lambs may just appear to cry," he says. But on closer inspection the lower eyelid and lashes will be turned inward.

"While entropion may not appear to be a major cause for concern, it is a welfare issue and should never be left untreated. It is painful and can lead to ulceration, blindness and in the worst cases a rupture of the eyeball."

Cases may be cured by injecting a liquid, such as liquid paraffin, under the eyelid to push it back into place or stitching it in place, advises Mr Lewis.

"After both treatments, an antibiotic cream should also be used to prevent any infections."

However, he is adamant that treatment by injection or stitching should only be performed by a vet or under close vet supervision. Cost of treatment is minimal compared with the lambs value, particularly when lambs are taken to the vet surgery.

Movement to and from the vet surgery for treatment does not trigger the 20-day standstill, providing the animal returns to the same holding, adds Mr Lewis.

Where the condition is thought to be hereditary, he advises avoiding breeding from stock which have suffered entropion. &#42