Know How / Sheep / Health and welfare

Poor flock health undermines productivity and causes welfare issues. Read the latest thinking on treatments for foot-rot, worms and fly strike along with veterinary advice on diseases such as Schmallenberg and liver fluke, as well as lambing issues including twin lamb disease, abortion, watery mouth and hypothermia.

Case studies


Brothers seek £73/ha profit lift with less output

Sheep are making way for suckler cows to minimise winter feed requirements and pay the mortgage on an organic grassland farm. The alteration is one of several Graham and Michael…


How cobalt deficiency tests led to higher lamb weights

A split trial on a Dorset farm highlighted a 3.52kg uplift in weight gain and reduced susceptibility to worms in lambs supplemented for cobalt deficiency. The result of the trial,…


How colostrum and new shed helped cut lamb mortality

Meticulous colostrum feeding and a new lambing shed have helped cut mortality and eradicate cases of watery mouth in an organic March-lambing flock. Mortality has fallen from 26% to 17%…


How feeding maize silage has cut ration cost by £10 a ewe

Switching the winter housing ration from conserved grass to maize silage was an unplanned change at Wern Ddu near Newtown in Montgomeryshire. Ten years on, and its financial and health…


Video: Island rallies to dip 28,500 sheep and beat scab

More than 28,000 sheep have been dipped to rid a Hebridean island of a costly and contagious parasite.  Crofters and farmers on Lewis and Harris co-ordinated time off, wagons, trailers,…


How mineral blood test helps cut barren rates

Analysis of ewe bloods for minerals in late gestation prompted a change in supplementation that has cut barren rates from 5% to 1.6% for an Aultbea-based sheep breeder. Ryan MacLean…

Practical advice

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How to use and go beyond worm egg counts

Gut worms are one of the most significant challenges to the health and production of grazed livestock – particularly sheep. Over the past century, drenches and injectable wormers have proved…


What can be done to prevent bluetongue virus?

Insecticides and repellents will not prevent cattle and sheep from being infected with bluetongue virus, scientists are warning. Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an infectious, non-contagious virus spread by Culicoides biting…


Tips to manage worm challenges and benefit lamb growth

Farmers must learn to “clean-graze” lambs to reduce worm burdens, rather than routinely relying on anthelmintics. This was the message from Matt Colston, who said farmers need to relearn the…


Why and when farmers should weigh sheep

There is a whole heap of reasons to weigh sheep regularly. In fact, the benefits are four-fold: for health, nutrition, management, and genetic purposes, says Peter Stoker, marketing manager from…


What to do when worm reinfection limits lamb growth rates

In the latest in our series, Ben Strugnell of Farm Post Mortems, County Durham, discusses a tough late summer season of parasite challenge in youngstock at grass. Good-quality grass is…


Liver fluke: Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Liver fluke is a common parasitic disease of grazing animals. Caused by the trematode Fasciola hepatica, it is endemic to our national herd and flock, so it is important to…



Sheep health: Government schemes and farmer priorities

Disease does not respect borders, so it is incumbent on the whole industry to take a strict stance towards protecting flock health. Sheep breeder and National Sheep Association (NSA) trustee…


Can sheep be 'worm tolerant' and what are the implications?

Lambs most tolerant to worm burdens could have a 10-day weight gain advantage over less tolerant ones, a pilot study has shown. The study, Breeding for tolerance to worms for…


Why keeping ewes in good condition can help save on wormers

Keeping ewes at a good body condition score (BCS) in the weeks before and after lambing minimises worming requirements at a key point in the year, a new Welsh study…


How rising costs threaten future of Icelandic sheep farming

Tough and resilient – the farmers in Iceland are much like the sheep they have bred to cope with the rugged terrain and sub-Arctic winter conditions. But many, like 44-year-old…


Gene mapping breakthrough good news for sheep farms

Researchers have taken “a major step forward” in the fight against wormer resistance on sheep farms by mapping the genes linked to drug resistance of the parasitic worm Haemonchus contortus.…


Livestock Medicine Hub - what it's for and how it can help

A new database that enables farms to record, monitor and benchmark their antibiotics use has been developed by representatives from across the ruminant sector. Medicine Hub is available now and…


Why health gains cut ruminant methane emissions by 10%

Three classic livestock benchmarking targets can help sheep and cattle farms raise technical performance and meet obligatory methane goals to battle climate change. Livestock policy leaders are urging farmers to…


Coccidiosis project raises hope for new treatment

Coccidiosis is a perennial parasitic problem in growing lambs. It presents some difficulties in diagnosis, treatment and prevention – but good news could be around the corner.  Lambs and calves…


Video: Fluke video gives powerful insight into parasite

A video documenting the different stages of the harmful liver fluke parasite has been made to help farmers understand its complex life cycle. The video (below) shows the liver fluke…


Vet survey reveals serious challenges ahead for profession

Poor retention and recruitment rates, Brexit and dissatisfaction in the industry could see a shortage of farm vets in the future if action isn’t taken.  Farmers Weekly carried out a…


Why a spring spike in dead lambs occurs despite vaccinations

A spike in pasteurella in dead lambs, aged five to eight weeks, has been seen again this spring despite farmers vaccinating ewes for the disease. Typically found in northern England…


Sheep lameness: The successes and remaining challenges

In 2012, Farmers Weekly launched the Stamp Out Lameness campaign after sheep lameness hit the government's radar when the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) put forward an Opinion on Lameness…

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