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Sheep Health
Drenching/bolus gun injuries in sheep
  1. David Harwood, Welfare Programme Manager1 and
  2. Sophia Hepple, Animal Welfare Team2
  1. VLA – Winchester, Itchen Abbas, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1BX e-mail:
  2. Defra, Area 8B, 9 Millbank, London SW1P 3JR

Statistics from

OVER the past 10 years, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) in England and Wales has confirmed over 270 cases of severe pharyngeal injury and its sequelae in sheep following the use of a drenching/bolus gun (VIDA data). These cases were confirmed by individual postmortem examinations, and it is likely, therefore, that many more sheep will have been affected on these and other farms during this same time period. Both the VLA and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) have reported on this previously (SAC 2002, VLA 2002, 2006, 2011). During the last three months of 2010, however, a number of particularly serious incidents have been investigated whereby a significant number of affected animals have died or were culled on welfare grounds.

In one case, a total of 500 ewes were dosed orally with a vitamin/mineral supplement using a conventional drenching gun. Six ewes died within the first 24 hours, and a further 40 …

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