Campylobacter is reducing lamb marking percentages across Australia

Campylobacter, a bacterium that causes late term abortions and still births in lambs, is more common than Australian sheep producers think. In fact, extensive testing over the last three years has found that a vast majority of farms are infected with one or both strains of Campylobacter.

What is the impact of Campylobacter? Campylobacter can cause significant losses in your flock. Extensive blood sampling can confirm that 2/3 of farms tested are affected by the main abortion causing strain2.

On farms where Campylobacter is present, hidden lamb losses average 9%3. If you have an abortion storm caused by Campylobacter, you may see losses of up to 40%.


  • Campylobacter is the most common cause of abortions in sheep.
  • Campylobacter is a bacterial infection – C. fetus fetus is commonly associated with abortions in sheep. C. jejuni is found in most Australian sheep and is also known to cause lamb abortions.
  • Reports from the MLA and other sources show lamb losses from Campylobacter average 9%.
  • Maiden ewes are often naive to Campylobacter.
  • You may not know you have Campylobacter on your property.
  • You may not see foetuses on the ground – just a reduction from scanning to lamb marking.


  • Abortions and stillborn lambs.
  • Weak or unviable lambs.
  • Blood stained breaches.
  • Poor scanning to marking percentage.
  • Large gap between maidens and the main flock.
  • Many aborting ewes show no signs of ill-health and recover.



Livestock Health and Pest Authority staff across southern NSW a recurrently conducting a survey of chlamydial arthritis in lambs. Sheep producers are being randomly selected and offered to take part in this trial. Vets from southern LHPA offices will visit these properties to collect blood samples from weaner lambs to see whether or not they have been exposed to the disease. The results of this survey will give us some idea as to the prevalence of the disease in flocks in the southern NSW region. The producers will also be asked to answer a questionnaire on the prevalence of similar arthritis syndromes in their flock over the last 5 years.

So what is chlamydial arthritis? It is certainly something we diagnose quite frequently. It is an infection with an organism known as Chlamydiapecorum. When lambs are infected this bug gets into the blood and then tends to settle down in the joints causing an arthritis to develop. Producers notice signs particularly in recently weaned rapidly growing crossbred lambs in spring. They comment that affected lambs are tucked up and reluctant to move. They have a stiff, crotchety gait but may improve if moved a distance. These lambs often look quite depressed and will fall back in condition. Usually around10-20%of the flock will be affected but this figure could be higher. When we visit the farm to examine these lambs they look dull. Quite often they will also have watery eyes and very high body temperatures. Their joints may also be slightly swollen and warm to touch. To diagnose the condition we will collect blood samples which tell us if the animal is mounting an immune response to the chlamydial organism. If the lamb has only recently picked up the disease it may not yet have registered an immuneresponseandwillrequireretestingin2weeks time to confirm the diagnosis.

Chlamydial arthritis is relatively simple to treat. Affected animals generally respond well to a single dose of long acting antibiotics. However, prevention is not so straightforward, and this frustrates lamb producers who see the disease in their lambs every year. It is really something that we do not know much about and we hope information from this survey will improve our understanding so these producer scan take measures to avoid the production loss associated with the disease.



Reports of metabolic disorders in sheep are becoming quite alarming but are to be expected where sheep have been on high quality forage over a prolonged period during pregnancy and the quality of the forage declines with maturation of the pasture plants. Fat ewes are at most risk carrying big lambs or twin lambs since they require nutrients at least double the rate of thinner ewes with smaller lambs.

The requirements for nutrients to supply the growth of the lamb in the belly cannot be switched off and most growth occurs in the last 30 days of pregnancy. The high nutritional state prior to the rams going out is inductive of multiple ovulations and more ewes carry twins.

A nutritional plane in early pregnancy that allows the ewe to become fat allows good development of the placenta and mammary tissues and therefore the maternal blood supply. This ensures a high growth rate of the developing lamb and therefore demand for nutrients (energy, glucose amino acids and minerals).

When feed suddenly decreases in value (matures and digestibility decreases or the balance when pasture hays off), the ewe’s feed intake feels the effects. Lowered feed intake and digestibility means that the demands by the lambs she is carrying suddenly competes with demand by the ewe herself. This drain of nutrients into the lamb renders critical nutrients unavailable in sufficient quantities for the ewe’s metabolism.

Glucose is an essential nutrient in ruminants. It is not absorbed as in monogastric animals from digestion of carbohydrates but is synthesized in the animal partly from an acid-propionic produced in the fermentative digestion of the feed and secondly from the microbial protein digested and absorbed from the rumen microbes that grow on the feed but are washed into the lower parts of the intestine where they are digested to amino acids and absorbed. Glucose is also an essential element for the growing foetus which appears to have priority for this when animals feed intake declines. There is a compounding effect as feed intake decreases as plants mature and decline in nutritional value, glucose available for both the ewe and lamb may decrease to a critical level which in turn causes metabolic distress and the animal may go off feed and pregnancy toxaemia results in death of the ewe and lamb.

Success in preventing pregnancy toxaemia resides in being able to supply sufficient glucose from feed for both ewe and lamb, but bypass proteins are required to ensure the feed passes through the rumen unchanged.

Protein meals that are finely ground and have been heated and insoluble are good sources of these bypass proteins. They include among others cottonseed meal, copra meal and dried distiller’s grains and solubles. Digestion of these bypass proteins ensures availability of essential amino acids and provides building blocks for the synthesis of glucose in the body of the ewe.

SOURCE: Olsson’s Technical Bulletin. Edited from R. A Leng.


Reproductive functions are highly demanding, in both nutrient quality and quantity. With this in mind nutritional status is a very important indication of reproductive efficiency in sheep. Along with protein and energy there are also many minerals that at required by the diet of the sheep. Some are more important to reproduction than others.

Sheep grazing high quality pasture are often limited by both phosphorus and magnesium, by providing these two macro-minerals to breeding ewes it can help increase reproductive parameters along with preventing the changes of grass tetany occurring.

Micro or trace minerals such as copper, selenium, zinc and iodine are responsible for ova formation, ovulation, pregnancy recognition, cartilage and bone formation and correct thyroid function. Some trace materials like selenium function as antioxidants and prevent free radical damage to the tissues from occurring. All of which is important in healthy conception and development of the embryo and later the foetus. A deficiency or imbalance of any of these minerals can result in significant production losses in the breeding flock.

Four Season Company’s ‘Prelamb’ is a supplement for breeding ewes and lambs containing, high quality bypass protein for achieving and maintaining good body weight prior to and throughout pregnancy, and minerals needs for reproductive functions essential to conception and ewe and lamb health during pregnancy. Designed to be fed 6 to 8 weeks prior to lambing, Prelamb, will assist in providing breeding stock with essential nutrients the pasture may be limited in.


Specifically designed to be fed to pre-lambing and lactating ewes and lambs, NeweTraLamb is a great source of energy, protein, essential minerals & trace elements. Now containing SarStart®.

NeweTraLamb features the ONLY block on the market  containing grain (corn).

Starch intake has been shown to: Increase the lambing ewe’s colostrum quality and quantity, giving lambs a better start in life; Increase milk production of lactating ewes, so young lambs grow quicker; and speed up a lamb’s rumen development to digest pasture sooner, and wean earlier.

High level of macro and trace minerals;

Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus for colostrum and milk production.  Trace elements for immune function and health.


Natural Ionophore.  Improved feed efficiency and energy availability


Annual vaccination of ewes with Glanvac(r) 6S B12 provides sheep producers with ongoing protection against cheesy gland and the major clostridial diseases as well as providing selenium and high quality cobalt supplementation (in the form of vitamin B12 necessary for): Energy production, Wool production, Cell growth and Cell maturation.

Meaning healthier and more valuable livestock.

Sheep on the right supplemented with vitamin B12 in cobalt deficient country

Cheesy gland (CLA) is an economically important disease to Australian sheep producers, having a dramatic impact on meat quality for our overseas and local customers.

Cheesy Gland will also impact your wool clip by reducing the clean fleece weight by between 5% and 7% in the first year of infection.*



By Dr Ben Brown BVSc MACVSc – Professional Services Veterinarian

A new formulation of dicyclanil exists that has short withholding periods for both meat and wool and a short export slaughter interval (ESI).

The prevention and control of blowfly strike caused by Lucilia cuprina is a vital component of sheep husbandry in Australia. Flystrike is estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry about AU$ 280 million per annum and it has been estimated that some three million sheep die each year as a consequence of strike.

CLiK® Spray-On has long been the mainstay of fly control in Australian sheep production systems providing long term, season long protection for 18-24 weeks. Although still the best prevention available, in certain situations, it could not be used due to withholding periods/ESI. An example of such a scenario would be use on meat sheep (such as prime lambs) that are intended to be slaughtered for export within 120 days.

Due to the demand for dicyclanil in a formulation that allows greater flexibility with respect to meat and wool markets, Novartis Animal Health has developed CLiKZiN®; a ready to use spray-on flystrike preventative that has:

-A short meat withholding period of 7 days. -A short export slaughter interval of 21 days.

-A short wool withholding period of 1 month.

CLiKZiN® contains 12.5g/L of dicyclanil in a ready-to-use spray on formulation; it will protect treated sheep from flystrike for up to 11 weeks following application. It is also registered for the

prevention of flystrike in marking (but not mulesing) wounds for up to 11 weeks.

Superior Potency.

Studies have shown that when compared to cyromazine (the active in Vetrazin® Spray-On), dicyclanil is greater than 10 times more potent against Lucilia cuprina.3

Superior Flexibility.

CLiKZiN® is the result of extensive research and development to determine what the most appropriate concentration of dicyclanil is to achieve maximum length of protection and minimum meat and wool residues.

CLiKZiN® can be applied from 3 weeks after shearing up until one month before shearing giving farmers a large application window and greater flexibility in fly control options.




Nitrate Poisoning can cause large losses of sheep and cattle especially in extensive situations. Knowing the main triggers and situations where nitrate poisoning is possible and put in appropriate precautions is recommended as nitrate poisoning can hit quickly and cause large losses.

When the ruminant animal eats a plant the following process occurs; Nitrate (NO3) > Nitrite (NO2) > Ammonia (NH3) > Microbial Protein > Amino Acids.

When higher than normal amounts of nitrates are consumed, the nitrates are converted to nitrites quicker than nitrites can be converted to ammonia, leading to a build-up of nitrites in the rumen. The nitrites are then absorbed from the rumen and nitrate/nitrite poisoning occurs. High levels of nitrite in the bloodstream can cause changes to haemoglobin which carries oxygen around the body.

The result of nitrate poisoning is the animal essentially starves of oxygen. Lack of moisture, soil temperature and sunlight can all affect this process and cause nitrate/nitrite poisoning. Nitrate poisoning is more common in stunted plants that have a purple discolouration and on soils that are high in nitrogen. Cloudy, rainy and frosts can also increase the incidence. Nitrate poisoning is possible on stressed cereal crops, canola crops, brassica crops, pastures, weeds such as capeweed, variegated thistle, etc and also millets and some forage sorghums. Some herbicides can also increase the accumulation of nitrates in the plant. Plants that have had high levels of potash and nitrogen fertiliser can be more prone to nitrate poisoning.

Plants that have been moisture/cold or sunlight stressed may not be able to convert the nitrates absorbed by the roots into plant protein resulting in a build-up of nitrates in the plant. If hay is to be made out of suspect plants it is important to make sure the hay is properly dried. If large levels of nitrates are present and the hay is damp the nitrates convert to nitrite in the stack and when the hay is fed out nitrite poisoning occurs. Making silage out of suspect plants are often a better option than hay as the fermentation process can reduce the nitrate levels. If high nitrate levels are suspected it is advisable to get a nitrate/nitrite level performed via a feed test. U

Signs include diarrhoea & abdominal discomfort, rapid respiration, difficulty in breathing, trembling & staggering, convulsions, eventual death, and blood on post mortem (soon after death) appears to be a dark brown, chocolate colour and thick in appearance.


Get a nitrate/nitrite level done on suspect paddock to see if levels are safe to feed. Don’t put hungry stock onto suspect pasture/crops. Give them a feed of hay before putting them onto the paddock. Introduce the animals slowly onto the risky crop/pasture as the rumen bugs can handle small amounts of nitrates and you can slowly increase the amount given over time.

Supply a carbohydrate source as the energy source helps the bugs better utilise the nitrates. You can introduce a small number of stock and closely monitor to see if you see any signs and remove immediately if any unusual signs are seen. Monitor stock regularly when grazing suspect crops.?Try not to graze pregnant animals on the suspect crops as nitrate poisoning can cause abortions. Animals should receive a 5 in 1 vaccination before going onto crop as the change in diet can induce pulpy kidney.

Treatment: Urgent veterinary treatment should be sought if nitrate poisoning is suspected. For more information contact Landmark.



Pregnancy toxaemia in sheep is one of the major losses of both lambs and ewes around lambing. Pregnancy toxaemia, often referred to as twin lambing disease & lambing sickness, in winter and during times of drought and low feed conditions can cause large losses of both lambs and ewes. Recognising the signs and risk factors of pregnancy toxaemia can help to reduce the incidences and lower losses and economic impacts.

Pregnancy toxaemia is essentially a shortage of energy (glucose) required for the growing foetus and ewe. In late pregnancy (last 5 weeks) the lamb’s requirement for glucose sharply increases. This is especially so for ewes carrying multiple lambs. If the ewe is unable to consume sufficient feed to supply the demand for glucose the ewe begins to break down her own body condition to supply the lamb’s requirements. This leads to an accumulation of ketones in the bloodstream. The accumulation of ketones can cause brain damage, blindness and nervous symptoms.

SIGNS OF PREGNANCY TOXAEMIA include dopiness (general depression), stopping eating & drinking, blindness, maybe a discharge from nose & mouth, some twitching of muscles around the face, eventually they go down & become paralysed, death occurring up to a week after onset, and animals that recover may have lambing difficulty.

ANIMALS AT RISK OF PREGNANCY TOXAEMIA include very thin ewes, very fat ewes (high levels of abdominal fat combined with the space the lambs take up impedes the amount of feed the animal can eat therefore reducing feed & nutrient intake), twin & multiple lamb bearing ewes (higher glucose demand), animals that have been stressed closed to lambing (i.e. cold snaps, transport, yarding, etc), animals on poor quality feed or restricted feed (i.e. droughts), and older animals tend to be more at risk than younger animals (i.e. maidens) U


Once a ewe has gone down with pregnancy toxaemia they are quite hard to fix. Prevention is much better than cure.

Treatments can include products that contain high levels of glucose such as Vy’trate, Ceton and Ketol. These products are given to the animal orally (drenched) to get their glucose level up to reduce the ewe from breaking down body condition.

Because pregnancy toxaemia can induce milk fever it may also be advisable to administer a Flopak to the ewe to help with calcium levels.


Pregnancy toxaemia is caused by a shortage of glucose for requirements. Ensure that the ewe is getting sufficient feed and of high quality & digestibility (i.e. grain & roughage).

By making sure the animal is consuming sufficient nutrients the ewe does not need to break down body tissue hence controlling pregnancy toxaemia.

It isn’t ideal to feed low quality, high roughage diets to ewes (especially those carrying multiple lambs) in the last stages (5 weeks) of pregnancy. Due to the increases in nutrient demand and ewes decreased capacity for feed intake (i.e. growing lambs take up rumen space).

Scanning ewes can help to feed ewes to their requirements and reduce the risk of pregnancy toxaemia and prevents over feeding over single bearing ewes. For help with feeding amounts & rations please contact your local Landmark store.



Because Australia has such an unpredictable climate, livestock enterprises extensively grazing sheep and goats are always at risk of nutritional deficiency. Often at greatest risk are pregnant ewes and does, particularly those carrying multiple off-spring, and in the last few weeks of gestation. These animals have the greatest demand for energy and protein.

If pregnant stock are closely monitored, at risk animals (those that have poor condition scores) can be identified early and managed through improving dietary energy and protein supply. It makes sense to ensure that these females have been treated for parasites, including liver fluke, which act as another energy burden on already under-nourished animals.

If animals are showing signs such as separation from the mob, but are not recumbent, then immediate treatment with an energy and electrolyte supplement like Vy’trate or Ceton® can help to stabilise the animal whilst it is moved to the yards for supplementary feeding. If animals are recumbent or showing signs of disorientation, the value of the ewe or doe should be considered, and if her value is greater than that of her offspring, then it becomes sensible to induce lambing/kidding. The medications required to do this need to be acquired from a veterinarian and are likely to cost less than $10 per animal. Treatment with Ceton® will still be required until the animal begins to eat more readily and has delivered the offspring.

Offspring may or may not be viable when delivered after induction.

Jurox Solutions for Pregnancy Toxaemia

Vy’trate Liquid is available in 1, 5 and 20 litre drums. As a treatment for Pregnancy Toxaemia, 160 mL of Vy’trate per animal should be administered undiluted by drench gun and repeated every four to six hours as necessary. This dose should cost less than $2.00 per treatment or approximately $12.00 daily until the animal begins eating again. An initial treatment with Vy’trate may result in a more rapid but short-lived improvement, which can be maintained with follow-up administration of Ceton®. Vy’trate can also be used for treatment of scouring lambs, administered diluted in accordance with the label.

Ceton® Ketosis and Pregnancy Toxaemia Treatment is specifically designed for treatment of pregnancy toxaemia. Ceton® supplies glucose via a precursor called propylene glycol, which can give more sustained elevations in glucose levels than Vy’trate or injectable forms of glucose. It also supplies obalt, important for the production of Vitamin B12 and vital in energy utilisation;

and choline, which breaks down fatty acids that cause signs such as depression and disorientation. Ceton® should be administered orally, with drenching equipment or on feed, at a dose of 50 mL per animal twice daily working out at around $2.00 daily -until the animal begins eating again.

[Source: Jurox.]



Warm moist conditions combined with a green groundcover are ideal conditions for worm problems, especially in sheep. Internal parasites have a profound negative impact on the productivity of sheep worldwide. The most devastating of the roundworms Haemonchus Contortus, or better known as Barbers Pole, causes wide spread anaemia and death. Other less obvious losses associated with parasitism have dire economic consequences for sheep farmers as well, including reduced wool production, decreased fertility in ewes due to lower body weight and reduced meat production in lamb.

To combat the effects of parasitism, recommended sheep management practices include short acting drenches administered to ewes pre-lambing and to lambs at weaning. However due to the short duration and the level of resistance some of the drenches are limited in the success in controlling parasite burdens.

Lambing is a time of susceptibility to parasites making ewes especially vulnerable with roundworms during late pregnancy and early lactation, A dramatic increase in faecal egg production occurs at this time with levels if over 1000 eggs per gram. The heavy worm burden diminishes the ewe’s ability to produce the healthiest lambs. With ewes producing high levels if egg output which in turn contaminates pastures and lambing paddocks creating a harmful environment for lambs.

Under these conditions lambs born worm free become infected by ingesting larvae on the pasture when they start grazing.

When the lamb the lamb is weaned from its mother the lamb undergoes enormous stress. Vulnerable to both parasites and disease lambs are typically drenched and vaccinated at weaning time. Lambs grazing on contaminated pasture will have increased worm burdens as they increase with grazing. So it is important t have a strategic approach t you sheep parasite control.

If you need further information speak to Richard or your local vet.



AVOMEC(r) DUEL provides double protection against barber’s pole worm

(December 2008) – Merial Australia has launched new AVOMEC DUEL – a dual

combination broad-spectrum oral sheep drench that can provide up to 6 weeks’ sustained activity against barber’s pole worm*. The launch comes at an opportune time with recent rainfall and warmer temperatures creating ideal conditions for barber’s pole worm, especially in the New England area of New South Wales.

Barber’s pole worms feed on blood, with heavy infections leading to anaemia, weakness and bottle jaw (fluid collecting under the jaw). These worms are most active in weather conditions that provide more than 12 mm of rainfall per week, daily maximum temperatures above 18 degrees Celsius and overnight minimums above 10 degrees Celsius.

Barber’s pole worm can have a significant impact on sheep productivity, including reduced wool growth, reduced weight gains, reduced milk production and reduced growth. These effects multiply as the worm burden becomes heavier. In a worst case scenario, barber’s pole worms can kill sheep, with deaths occurring in as little as a week after a rain event.

AVOMEC DUEL protects sheep against roundworms, lungworm, liver fluke, nasal bot and itch mite in addition to providing 6 weeks’ protection against susceptible barber’s pole worm.

“AVOMEC DUEL represents a major breakthrough in sheep parasite control because it can provide protection against barber’s pole worms that are resistant to abamectin and closantel,” said Adam Gatenby, senior product manager at Merial Australia. “It has a higher than standard closantel concentration that is also absorbed at a higher rate than standard closantel-based drenches, even when dosed at the same rate#. This translates to better barber’s pole protection for sheep.”

The key active ingredients in AVOMEC DUEL are abamectin, a broad spectrum antiparasitic, and closantel, a narrow spectrum antiparasitic targeting barber’s pole worm and liver fluke.

AVOMEC DUEL can be used as a quarantine drench to prevent introduction of resistant strains of barber’s pole worms.

AVOMEC DUEL is ideal to use within a strategic worm control program for barber’s pole.

TRITON(r) – a broad-spectrum, triple-active antiparasitic, which kills all the important gastrointestinal worms of sheep, as well as lungworm, nasal bot and itch mite is the perfect short-action option. Merial long-acting capsules including EXTENDER(r), IVOMEC(r) MAXIMIZER(r) and OPTAMAX(r) provide 100 days of protection. Add AVOMEC DUEL to the program and producers can ensure their sheep are optimally protected.

“AVOMEC was the trusted brand that launched cattlemen into the past three decades of modern pour-ons, injectables and oral drenches. We’ve used that experience to create an effective weapon against parasites in sheep,” said Adam. “AVOMEC DUEL is safe to use on ewes at any stage of pregnancy as well as on lambs older than 6 weeks and greater than 10 kg body weight. Sheep farmers can integrate the use of AVOMEC DUEL with long acting capsules and shorter acting TRITON in a parasite control program to provide the best protection against infestations.”

AVOMEC DUEL should not be used in ewes that are producing or may in future produce milk or milk products for human consumption. The export slaughter interval for sheep dosed with AVOMEC DUEL is 84 days and the meat withholding period is 49 days.

AVOMEC DUEL comes in 5-litre backpacks and 10-litre drums and is available now from your local rural store.