2015-10-26  facebooktwitterrss

Maedi Visna Threat Ever Present

Maedi Visna continues to pose a constant challenge for the UK sheep industry, with recent tests revealing that 25% of ewes tested for the disease were suffering from it.

As a result, sheep farmers are being urged to consider the cause of ill thrift in ewes more urgently this autumn.

Texel ewe and lambs

The tests, conducted by SAC Consulting Vet Services on flocks throughout England, were mainly in crossbred and Mule flocks, with owners reporting ewes being thin, breathless and sometimes lame. In flocks tested ewe mortality rates were increased and lambing percentages and growth rates reduced.

Maedi Visna is a chronic viral disease which was introduced into the UK through imported sheep. It has since spread, especially in commercial flocks. The condition is highly contagious, difficult to diagnose and is fatal.

Flock owners seeing any signs of sill thrift in their ewes this autumn are, therefore, being urged to investigate any cases of ill-thrift in ewes with their vet.

“Ewes should be in good condition at tupping this year given the good weather we have seen this autumn” says Brian Hosie, head of SAC Consulting Vet Services. “This makes it all the more important farmers quickly work out why some ewes may not be performing”.

Farmers worried about their flock should condition score their ewes and manage them accordingly; this will allow them to identify ewes which are not improving.

There are many diseases other than MV that can cause ill-thrift in sheep flocks. These include liver fluke, worms, trace element deficiency, Johne’s Disease and OPA/Jaagsiekte.

Vet surgeons can find out what is causing ill thrift through collecting samples of faeces or blood for analysis or through arranging for some animals to be examined post mortem. Often more than one condition is responsible, however, the results will allow flock owners and shepherds to set up a suitable treatment and control programme for the flock.


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