An abattoir survey of sheep and goats was carried out in The Gambia for one year. A total of 1248 goats and 438 sheep, predominantly young females, were slaughtered and sampled. Sixty per cent of the females of both species were pregnant. There were no significant differences between the dressing percentages of different breeds and age groups. Sex and stage of pregnancy had a significant influence on carcase yields in both species. In goats the highest carcase yields were obtained during the early dry season. Most of the animals were clinically healthy and there were few pathological findings postmortem. In both species, there was a seasonal fluctuation of packed cell volume (Pcv), with a minimum during the rains, and although the prevalence of trypanosomiasis was low it reduced the PCV. Faecal egg counts of Trichostrongylidae were highest during the rainy season and goats had higher faecal egg and coccidial oocyst counts than sheep. In sheep, a breed difference was observed for PCV and an age difference for egg excretion. The peak or higher rates of egg excretion occurred during the rains in both species. The immune status against peste des petits ruminants was significantly lower in goats (39 per cent) than in sheep (49.5 per cent). Antibodies against bluetongue virus were found in 62.6 per cent of goats and 55.8 per cent of sheep.
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