Meat & Livestock News

Effective Tactics for Combating Pneumonia in Lambs During High-Risk Times

Pneumonia in lambs, particularly Chronic Non-Progressive Pneumonia, is a prevalent issue in farming. This condition, often caused by various pathogens like bacteria and viruses, leads to lung lesions. Its symptoms, such as reduced growth rate and respiratory distress post-exercise, though subtle, have significant implications for lamb health and farm efficiency.

A comprehensive study spanning 2000 to 2001 across Canterbury, Manawatu, and Gisborne, involving 1,719 farms, highlighted the widespread nature of this issue. It found that on average, 24% of lambs in a flock were affected by pneumonia, with the disease’s presence ranging from 40-70% across different flocks. The economic impact is notable, with affected lambs growing slower and their carcasses often being downgraded or rejected at processing stages.

The factors contributing to pneumonia in lambs include environmental and management conditions such as high temperatures, humidity, overcrowding, stress, dust exposure, inadequate ventilation, and poor health management. To counter these risks, farmers can adopt several proactive measures:

  1. Health and Nutrition: Maintaining optimal health and nutrition in lambs is crucial. This involves regular health checks and ensuring a stress-free environment.
  1. Yard Management: Limiting the time lambs spend in yards and pre-watering these areas can significantly reduce dust, a key irritant.
  1. Mob Management: Smaller mob sizes help in reducing stress and dust exposure. Additionally, avoiding shearing during weaning can be beneficial.
  1. Regulating Movements: Adjusting the timing and extent of stock movements, especially during peak dust hours like midday, is essential. Long-distance movements should be minimised.
  1. Mustering Techniques: During mustering or driving, strategies to reduce stress and panting in lambs, such as using satellite yards and laneways, can be effective.

By implementing these strategies, farmers can significantly mitigate the risk of pneumonia in lambs, leading to healthier flocks and more efficient farm operations.