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FETAL hydrops or hydrops foetalis refers to an excessive fluid accumulation within the fetal extravascular compartments including the body cavities (Bellini and others 2009). It is an end-stage syndrome, well documented in human medicine, for which multiple aetiologies are recognised. Fetal sheep have been used as experimental models for this condition in human beings (Andres and Brace 1990, Powell and Brace 1991, Gest and others 1992, Faber and Anderson 1994, Lumbers and others 2001). Naturally occurring cases have been reported in Poll Dorset and Dorset (Plant and others 1987), Merino (D'Assonville 1989), Awassi (Hailat and others 1997) and Beulah speckle face and Brecknock hill Cheviots breeds (K Hovers, personal communication). This short communication describes a cluster of fetal hydrops in Cheviot and Cheviot-Texel cross-lambs on one farm.
During the lambing season 2011 and 2012, five lambs were born with severe generalised oedema (hydrops foetalis). Four were purebred Cheviot and one a Texel-Cheviot cross-lamb (Table 1). Lambs 1–3 were related through their grandsire, while the two lambs from lambing season 2012 were sired by the same tup. All deliveries were by caesarean section, at term.
Lambs 2, 4 and 5 were submitted for postmortem examination carried out according …