Pro­tect­ing your flock

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - GARDEN & HOME EXPO -

For many semi-closed flocks, the pur­chase and in­tro­duc­tion of rams is when dis­ease may be in­tro­duced.

One dis­ease to watch out for is ovine bru­cel­losis (OB).

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria dis­trict vet­eri­nary of­fi­cer Jeff Cave said OB is a bac­te­rial dis­ease char­ac­terised by in­fer­til­ity in rams and un­like bru­cel­losis in cat­tle which Aus­tralia is now of­fi­cially free of.

“As a re­sult of its ef­fect on rams, OB may cause re­duced lamb mark­ing per­cent­ages, an ex­tended lamb­ing pe­riod, ill thrift in new­born lambs and in­creased culling of rams due to in­fer­til­ity,” Dr Cave said.

“In some cases the pres­ence of OB in a flock may be in­sid­i­ous and go un­recog­nised due to other causes of poor lamb mark­ing per­cent­ages. How­ever, once a num­ber of rams are in­fected OB can lead to a sub­stan­tial loss in pro­duc­tion,” he said.

Dr Cave said OB causes in­flam­ma­tion of the epi­didymis, which is the tube in which se­men is trans­ported from the testis.

This in­flam­ma­tion leads to a com­plete or par­tial block­age of the epi­didymis leav­ing the ram ster­ile or sub-fer­tile.

“One way of di­ag­nos­ing OB is to pal­pate or feel the testis of a ram for swellings, it can also be di­ag­nosed by a blood test or by se­men ex­am­i­na­tion.

“OB is typ­i­cally in­tro­duced into a flock by an in­fected ram. The dis­ease sub­se­quently spreads ram to ram or via ewes dur­ing join­ing.”

He said once in­tro­duced, to avoid the ad­verse ef­fects of OB, the only so­lu­tion is to erad­i­cate the dis­ease, which is achieved with vet­eri­nary as­sis­tance by pal­pat­ing and blood test­ing rams, and culling any that are found to be in­fected.

“As al­ways, pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure. To as­sist in iden­ti­fy­ing low risk flocks a vol­un­tary ac­cred­i­ta­tion scheme is in place.

“Your prop­erty can be­come OB ac­cred­ited in con­sul­ta­tion with your pri­vate vet­eri­nary prac­ti­tioner by suc­ces­sively test­ing all rams over six months of age with neg­a­tive re­sults and demon­strat­ing se­cure bound­ary fenc­ing.”

Dr Cave said when pur­chas­ing re­place­ment rams al­ways pur­chase from an OB ac­cred­ited flock and this will pro­vide the safest ‘risk’. In ad­di­tion, bound­ary fenc­ing should be sound and se­cure to pre­vent stray­ing an­i­mals from neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties.

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