Thin Ewes and Possible Causes

Thin Ewes and Possible Causes

In the run up to the main tupping season checking ewe body condition score (BCS) and considering the impact that disease may be having on it is an important part of flock health planning.

Recent advice from the SAC has suggested that for ewes below BCS 3 it is possible for them to increase body condition by a whole score in 8 weeks. This is conditional on them being provided with the best quality grass at a minimum height of 4cm. One of the main reasons for them not achieving this weight gain under such conditions may be disease.

Therefore grazing lean ewes in this way and assessing their response to improved nutrition is a useful first screening test to assess likely disease risk.

Another key question to consider: Are the thin ewes an individual, small group or large group problem?
The principal diagnoses are as follows:

Individual Problems:
Neoplasia, arthritis, endocarditis, scrapie, chronic pneumonia and CLA.

Small group problems:
Poor dentition, Johne’s disease, OPA, Maedi Visna and PGE.

Large group problems:
Inadequate nutrition, liver fluke, sheep scab, foot rot and CODD.

Some of these conditions are best assessed through accurate history taking and clinical observation on farm however, for many conditions, post mortem would be the best way to reach a diagnosis.

If you wish to discuss the diagnostic approach to such flock problems, please get in touch.

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