17 December 2009
With sheep scanning underway in many parts of the country, farmers running a flock with a barren rate greater than 2% can now ask for a subsidised flock blood test to establish whether the cause of the problem is toxoplasmosis.
Barren EweCheck – the diagnostic scheme supported by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health – is available from vets from 1st December 2009 until 31st March 2009. Producers concerned about empty or aborting ewes should talk to their vet about the service as soon as possible.
Toxoplasmosis is the main infectious cause of early embryo loss in sheep and a very common cause of barrenness, abortion and weak lambs born alive. Data from the 2009 Barren EweCheck scheme showed that 69% of the flocks tested had been exposed to the toxoplasma parasite.
“Toxoplasma is an environmental contaminant spread by infected cats,” points out Paul Williams MRCVS from Intervet/Schering-Plough. “This means all flocks are at risk because it only takes one brief visit to a holding from an infected cat to contaminate the whole farm. The good news is that where toxoplasma infection has been confirmed in a flock the disease can be controlled effectively by a vaccination regime. What’s more, the costs of a prevention programme can be easily covered by a reduction in future flock barren rates.”