Friday, February 8, 2013

Enterotoxaemia in Dairy Sheep

This disease is commonly called “overeating”. It causes sudden death of lambs that are eating well and growing rapidly. Enterotoxaemia is caused by the bacteria Clostridium perfringeus. which is normally found in the intestinal tracts of sheep. When large quantities of high energy feeds, such as grain or milk are ingested, the bacteria grow rapidly producing a toxin absorbed by the gut which kills the lamb.

Lambs cannot spread the bacteria. This organism is normally present in lambs but the large intake of high energy feeds is what enables the rapid bacterial growth and production of toxins.
There are two different types; type C, which tends to occur in very young lambs and type D, which normally occurs in lambs that are being fed grain while still nursing or even after weaning when they are fed ratios high in concentrates.
Excellent vaccines are available and should be used in all sheep. Ewes should be vaccinated with Clostridium Perfringe type C and D toxoid prior to lambing. This will provide immunity to the newborn lamb through the ewe’s colostrums. Lambs should be vaccinated at birth, six weeks later and once more when weaning or when feed ratios are high in protein.

Have a great weekend!
Andy Karras
Karras Farm Inc.

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