19 February 1999


The gloom surrounding the sheep industry gives little incentive to be positive about the future. But necessity is the mother of invention and many are trying harder than ever to find ways to improve performance, prices and profits.

If poor prices arent enough, two new diseases – caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) and virulent foot-rot – hit the headlines recently, adding to worries. Both sides of the industry are taking positive steps to counter these. This Update looks at what is being done to conquer CLA. Arming industry with a practical guide on identifying this disease and a list of measures to limit its spread should help protect flock health and future profits.

Virulent foot-rot is another worry, and one which appears instantly recognisable. But identifying exactly why sheep are lame can be tricky. We look at how to distinguish diseases associated with lameness, as ensuring the right treatment will lead to a more effective, earlier cure.

Organic production is a much discussed option to help boost profitability. But facing your first organic lambing can be daunting. We examine what and what not to do at lambing time. Prevention rather than cure is the central theme when most conventional medicine is out of bounds.

Like all paths leading to improved profit, planning is essential to reduce mortality, given that ADAS figures suggest lamb losses wipe £120m off potential income a year.

Prevention is also the aim with scrapie, with rapid progress being made in breeding in resistance. We report on what Swaledale breeders are doing; breeding for resistance without jeopardising all-important breed traits.

See more