Sheep vets to discuss scanning discrepancies in Tasmania

Sheep Central, February 11, 2015

Sheep ewes and lambs 1Research into improving lamb production will be discussed during Australia’s largest cattle and sheep health conference in Tasmania this week.

More than 230 sheep and cattle veterinarians from all states and territories will be attending Australia’s largest cattle and sheep health conference in Tasmania this week.

The conference is being hosted by Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) and Australian Sheep Veterinarians (ASV), special interest groups of the Australian Veterinary Association.

Important to accurately diagnose pregnancy for profitability

The University of Adelaide’s Dr Emma Jacobs said that it’s important to accurately diagnose pregnancy to help maximise production and profitability of sheep enterprises.

“It’s been estimated that the actual number of lambs born may be 9.3 percent lower than predicted from ultrasound pregnancy scanning,” she said.

“It was also found that 95pc of ewes diagnosed as pregnant went on to lamb, and 6pc of ewes diagnosed as non-pregnant went on to lamb.

“Disparity between pregnancy scanning and the actual number of lambs born can be due to a range of factors, including errors in ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis and foetal losses from infectious diseases or non-infectious causes such as toxins.

“Lamb deaths during parturition and between lambing and lamb marking, including maternal behavioural problems can also have a role,” she said.

First step is to define a discrepancy’s cause

Dr Jacobs said the first step in reducing the disparity is to define the problem and determine the cause.

“Producers should monitor the flock after ultrasound pregnancy scanning and record the actual number of lambs born. Accurate records should also be kept of mating dates and the date of ultrasound pregnancy scanning to ensure scanning is being performed at the best time.

“Ultrasound scanning should be performed by a well-trained ultrasonographer and abdominal ultrasound imaging is recommended for higher accuracy rather than trans-rectal.”

Dr Jacobs said that foetal losses may be reduced by implementing biosecurity strategies to prevent the introduction and transfer of infections.

“It’s also important that ewes receive adequate nutrition during pregnancy and be sheltered from extreme environmental conditions. “Ewe-lamb bonds are important for survival so lambs shouldn’t be moved away from the lambing site for at least six hours,” she said.

Conference will highlight the role vets play

Dr Enoch BergmanPresident of the ACV, Dr Enoch Bergman said that the conference highlights the important role vets play in helping producers to take care of their animals’ health and welfare and improve productivity.

“As the professional experts on cattle and sheep health and welfare, veterinarians play an indispensable role in ensuring the health of our livestock industries.

“We are passionately engaged in improving our client’s bottom line and in helping them to optimise welfare outcomes for their livestock,” he said.

“Vets also contribute to the health of Australians through our role in food safety, biosecurity and quarantine systems.”

During the three-day event, Australian and overseas experts will showcase the latest trends in livestock veterinary practice. These include management and treatment strategies for a broad range of cattle and sheep diseases, and health and welfare issues. AVA national president, Dr Julia Nicholls will also be attending the conference.

Topics being covered include:

  • Preparedness and response to bush fires and other emergencies that impact livestock welfare and health
  • Ensuring appropriate antibiotic selection and administration
  • Sheep health and production
  • Animal welfare – the role of veterinarians
  • Dairy disease management and monitoring
  • On-farm biosecurity practices
  • Pain management in livestock.

“Australian producers continue to work hard to ensure high quality, disease free livestock. As livestock veterinarians, we help preserve Australia’s market reputation through attending conferences like these and staying right on the cutting edge of the latest science,” Dr Bergman said.



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  1. Richard Beggs, February 11, 2015

    Please recommend an accreditation program for sheep scanner to determine accuracy, similar to Eye muscle scanning.

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