Summer pnuemonia an issue in lambs: LLS vets

These lambs look happy and healthy but summer pnuemonia has been an issue in weaners in our region. Talk to your LLS vet if you see signs.
These lambs look happy and healthy but summer pnuemonia has been an issue in weaners in our region. Talk to your LLS vet if you see signs.

Summer pneumonia is again a significant issue for sheep producers in our region.

Several cases have been diagnosed in recent weeks affecting large numbers of weaner lambs, with deaths, production loss and interventions, including antibiotic treatment, required.

While pneumonia can be seen at any time of the year and in any class of sheep, we most commonly see it in young sheep in outbreaks during summer, hence it is given the term 'summer pneumonia'.

Similar to Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRD in cattle), sheep are predisposed to disease by combinations of initial viral and/or bacterial infection which circulate throughout a mob of susceptible animals.

Opportune secondary bacterial invasion of the compromised lung tissue then leads to outbreaks categorised by more obvious clinical disease, notably coughing and sometimes prolapses out the back end, and sporadic sudden deaths.

Stress leading to increased susceptibility is a significant factor in the development of an outbreak of respiratory disease, and can be precipitated by husbandry events such as shearing or crutching, changes in diet, transport, mixing, crowding and extreme climatic conditions, including temperature and humidity.

Breed may also be a factor, with outbreaks more common in cross breds and British breeds.

It has been a particularly tough summer for sheep.

Now would be a good time to have a look at your lambs - have you had unexplained deaths?

Is there excessive coughing, sometimes quite notable at rest? Are they knocking up when moved?

Some of these signs may be attributable to other problems we are seeing at the moment, including pulpy kidney and barber's pole worm.

It might pay to get in touch and we can discuss your concerns over the phone. In some situations we may advise a property visit to get to the bottom of things.

Feel free to contact us at the Central West Local Land Services Forbes Office on 6850 1600.