2015-01-07   facebook twitter rss

Subsidised Barren Ewe Blood Test now Available

With sheep scanning well underway shepherds with a flock barren rate greater than two percent can now ask their vet for a subsidised blood test to establish whether the cause of the problem is toxoplasmosis.

EXPERTIS™ Barren EweCheck – the diagnostic scheme supported by MSD Animal Health is now available from vets until 31st March 2015.


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Toxoplasmosis is the main infectious cause of early embryo loss in sheep and is a very common cause of barrenness, abortion and weak lambs born alive. Data from the 2014 EXPERTIS Barren EweCheck scheme showed that 85% of flocks tested had been exposed to the toxoplasma parasite.

According to MSD Animal Health technical manager, John Atkinson MRCVS, sheep pick up the toxoplasma parasite from the environment – from contaminated pasture, feed and water, for example.

“Infected cats shed toxoplasma eggs in their faeces and sheep pick up these eggs as they eat. The eggs are tough and can survive in the environment for over a year, which means farmers need to take steps to protect their sheep.

The good news is that where toxoplasma infection has been confirmed in a flock the disease can be controlled effectively by a vaccination regime. What’s more, the costs of a prevention programme can be easily covered by a reduction in future flock barren rates,” he says.

Producers concerned about a high proportion of empty or aborting ewes should talk to their vet about the service as soon as possible.


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