Ram buy­ers warned of re­pro­duc­tive dis­ease

Countryman - - LIVESTOCK -

The Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment is re­mind­ing sheep pro­duc­ers to check for re­pro­duc­tive dis­ease ovine bru­cel­losis be­fore buy­ing rams this sea­son.

Depart­ment field ve­teri­nary of­fi­cer Kris­tine Rayner said bring­ing in rams in­fected with ovine bru­cel­losis would re­sult in re­duced pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity.

“Ovine bru­cel­losis re­duces ram fer­til­ity, lead­ing to poor lamb­ing per­cent­ages and is ex­pen­sive to erad­i­cate once estab­lished,” Dr Rayner said.

“But there are steps that pro­duc­ers can take to avoid buy­ing rams with ovine bru­cel­losis. Vis­ual and phys­i­cal checks of ram testes for odd swellings are im­por­tant, but are not enough. Rams with ovine bru­cel­losis may have nor­mal look­ing testes and do not ap­pear sick.

“We en­cour­age ram buy­ers to re­quest neg­a­tive blood test re­sults for ovine bru­cel­losis be­fore buy­ing, or to con­sider buy­ing rams from flocks ac­cred­ited un­der the WA Ovine Bru­cel­losis Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Scheme. Pro­duc­ers should also ask for a Na­tional Sheep Health Dec­la­ra­tion.”

Dr Rayner said pro­duc­ers in the ac­cred­i­ta­tion scheme were able to pro­vide a high level of as­sur­ance of free­dom from ovine bru­cel­losis for their flock. They must have reg­u­lar neg­a­tive test re­sults and demon­strate good biose­cu­rity prac­tices to be ac­cred­ited.

She said the best time to check rams for ovine bru­cel­losis was be­fore they ar­rived on the farm.

“If test­ing is not done be­fore the rams ar­rive, they should be iso­lated and have two blood tests 60 days apart with neg­a­tive re­sults be­fore mix­ing with other stock,” Dr Rayner said.

She also noted ewes were a po­ten­tial source of in­fec­tion.

“Ewes that have re­cently mated with in­fected rams also risk in­fect­ing clean rams if they are ex­posed in the same oestrus cy­cle,” she said. “Ewes in­tro­duced onto a farm should not be joined for a min­i­mum of four months to en­sure they clear any po­ten­tial in­fec­tion with ovine bru­cel­losis.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, see the depart­ment web­site at agric.wa. gov.au and search for ovine bru­cel­losis.

Hill­croft Farms studmas­ter Daw­son Bradford Sr looks over the sale cat­a­logue with San Jolly and Ann Wallace, of SA.

Vis­ual checks are not enough to avoid ovine bru­cel­losis in pur­chased rams.

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