Blood test from ewes that are due to lamb in spring

WINTER is one of the busiest times for vets.

Inventory is housed and within easy reach, so now is a good time to perform all routine monitoring, processing and testing.

On the sheep side, we took blood samples from sheep due to lambs in the spring to check their levels of trace elements. Sheep can be deficient in trace elements such as selenium, cobalt, copper and iodine. Low levels can lead to reduced fertility in ewes and affect their unborn lambs. Low levels of copper during gestation can lead to a condition called swayback in lambs. Their nervous systems do not develop properly, causing weakness in their hind limbs. Unfortunately, the disease is not curable, but it is easily prevented by supplementing sheep lambs with copper. Low iodine levels can make lambs stillborn or weak at birth. Interestingly, it was recently discovered that giving too much iodine causes the antibodies in the colostrum of the ewe to bind, making them inaccessible to the lamb. Therefore, it is important to take blood samples and only complete what is necessary.

We have also been busy collecting blood and manure samples from cattle and sheep to look for signs of liver fluke. If you’ve never heard of this parasite before, it’s a leaf-shaped worm that migrates through the liver until it reaches the bile ducts and gallbladder – where it breeds. The eggs are then thrown into pasture where they go through several stages of development, including one inside the mud snail. The parasite causes everything from sudden death to bad sparing, depending on the number ingested by the animal. It is a constant battle against the moat here in Cumbria, as the climate is very favorable for both the development of the moat and the host of mud snails it needs. Fortunately, the hot weather in summer means that there are usually less mud snails and therefore less luck. However, the warmer, wetter days of fall may have increased the risk of infection. We test lamb blood samples for antibodies and manure samples for coproantigen (liver fluke secretions) and fluke eggs.

By the time you read this article, it will be 2022! This year will bring many changes, including the introduction of the Sustainable Agriculture Incentive. This program will pay farmers to produce public goods such as improving water quality, increasing biodiversity, improving animal health and welfare, and mitigating climate change. . As mentioned in last month’s article, we are running workshops (if Covid allows) to help farmers improve these areas. If you want to know more, give us a call, we love to chat!