Ewe deaths bring swift investigation

An investigation of ewe deaths on a farm in the Wimmera has demonstrated the support Agriculture Victoria staff can give to sheep producers.

The unexplained deaths of six ewes, which were on the point of lambing, over a series of days raised alarm bells for the producer.

The sheep, which were older but in good condition, were all found with intestinal prolapses.

Agriculture Victoria District Veterinary Officer, Dr Amy Sluggett said a significant disease investigation was approved.

This allowed the local private veterinary practice to submit samples to AgriBio in Melbourne at no charge.

This meant the producers received a discount from the veterinary practice, and the veterinary clinic received some funding.

“The producer subsidy is funded by the Victorian livestock industry and is available for investigations into cattle, sheep and goat diseases,” Dr Sluggett said.

“At the time of the Wimmera report, similar reports were made in the North West of the State.

“Collaboration between Agriculture Victoria vets, AgriBio pathologists and veterinarians Australia-wide has shown that this is not a new problem. It has been documented multiple times previously in NSW.”

Dr Sluggett said the swift action reassured producers that there was nothing more sinister happening in their flocks and showed that the condition was the result of a spontaneous rupture.

“It has been seen only in point of lamb ewes and it is thought that those on hilly land may be more prone to the problem,” Dr Sluggett said.

“It seems to be an age-old problem that has occurred due to seasonal conditions, but some farmers may not have seen it before and are rightly concerned and want some advice.”

If producers have any concerns about the health of their flocks they can phone Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 and speak with a Veterinary Officer or Animal Health Officer.

Source: Vic Government