A preliminary study revealed significantly lower serum iron concentrations in lambs that developed abomasal bloat about one week later, than in lambs that did not develop bloat. In a subsequent trial, with 754 naturally reared twin lambs from five flocks, iron dextran injections were found to have a preventive effect on the development of abomasal bloat. Clinical signs of abomasal bloat were observed in the placebo-treated lamb of 16 couples and in the iron-treated lamb of six couples (P<0.05). In three further couples, both lambs developed bloat. The iron-treated group had significantly (P<0.001) better average weight gains, both from birth to summer, and from birth to autumn of approximately 0.5 and 1 kg, respectively. There was a reduction in red blood cell values and iron saturation in the placebo groupl4 days after treatment but not in the iron-treated lambs. In one of the flocks, there was a decrease in the cumulative incidence of abomasal bloat from 37 per cent to 3 per cent during the period of four years after measures such as later lambing, earlier turnout and iron injections were introduced.
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