Epidemiologic factors involved in perinatal lamb mortality on four range sheep operations

J. P. Rowland From Departments of Environmental Health (Rowland, Salman, Keefe) and Clinical Sciences (Salman, Kimberling), and Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (Schweitzer), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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M. D. Salman From Departments of Environmental Health (Rowland, Salman, Keefe) and Clinical Sciences (Salman, Kimberling), and Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (Schweitzer), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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C. V. Kimberling From Departments of Environmental Health (Rowland, Salman, Keefe) and Clinical Sciences (Salman, Kimberling), and Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (Schweitzer), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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D. J. Schweitzer From Departments of Environmental Health (Rowland, Salman, Keefe) and Clinical Sciences (Salman, Kimberling), and Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (Schweitzer), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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T. J. Keefe From Departments of Environmental Health (Rowland, Salman, Keefe) and Clinical Sciences (Salman, Kimberling), and Colorado State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (Schweitzer), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Summary

Four shed-lambing operations in western Colorado were monitored during the 1984 spring lambing season to determine the causes and rates of perinatal lamb mortality. The number of lambing ewes per flock ranged from 513 to 1,712, and lambing percentages ranged from 131 to 180%. Overall perinatal lamb mortality ranged from 8.2 to 12.2%. Most lamb deaths occurred during parturition or within 24 hours after parturition. More than 85% of all lamb deaths were in lambs born to ewes having 2 or more lambs. The leading causes of lamb death were starvation, dystocia, stillbirth (unknown cause), and infectious diseases. A wheel model was used to categorize factors causing lamb deaths into 4 groups: physical, social, host, and biological, and to present data on perinatal lamb mortality in a simple visual model. In all flocks, social and biological factors resulted in most of the lamb deaths. On the basis of our findings, we suggest that interventions designed to improve ewe-lamb bonding and to reduce infectious agents and the incidence of prolonged parturition may reduce lamb mortality.

Summary

Four shed-lambing operations in western Colorado were monitored during the 1984 spring lambing season to determine the causes and rates of perinatal lamb mortality. The number of lambing ewes per flock ranged from 513 to 1,712, and lambing percentages ranged from 131 to 180%. Overall perinatal lamb mortality ranged from 8.2 to 12.2%. Most lamb deaths occurred during parturition or within 24 hours after parturition. More than 85% of all lamb deaths were in lambs born to ewes having 2 or more lambs. The leading causes of lamb death were starvation, dystocia, stillbirth (unknown cause), and infectious diseases. A wheel model was used to categorize factors causing lamb deaths into 4 groups: physical, social, host, and biological, and to present data on perinatal lamb mortality in a simple visual model. In all flocks, social and biological factors resulted in most of the lamb deaths. On the basis of our findings, we suggest that interventions designed to improve ewe-lamb bonding and to reduce infectious agents and the incidence of prolonged parturition may reduce lamb mortality.

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