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Factors associated with acute and chronic mastitis in suckler sheep

C. Grant, E. M. Smith, L. E. Green

ACUTE mastitis (AM) in ewes can lead to sudden death, loss of an affected udder half, intramammary masses (IMM, a marker for chronic mastitis) or raised somatic cell count. The reported flock incidence of AM in England and Ireland per year is 0 to 5 per cent. However, anecdotal reports from farmers indicate that 20 to 30 per cent of ewes culled at weaning may have udder damage from AM or chronic mastitis with palpable IMM. This study aimed to identify factors associated with acute and chronic mastitis and investigate their impact on lamb growth rate.

Ten suckler sheep flocks in Great Britain took part in this two-year longitudinal study. Each flock was visited twice each year, approximately four weeks before lambing and then at nine weeks into lactation, and all ewes present at each visit were examined. Data were collected on AM, IMM, udder and teat conformation, teat lesions, body condition, ewe nutrition, litter size, lamb weight and general flock management. Factors associated with AM, IMM in pregnant and lactating ewes, udder conformation and lamb daily live weight gain were explored using mixed effect multivariable models.

AM was reported in 2.1 to 3 per cent of ewes each year of the study, while IMM were detected in …

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