Diagnostic investigation of cases of deaths of newborn lambs
Neonatal lamb mortality, caused either by disorders of non-infectious aetiology or by pathological conditions of microbial or parasitic aetiology, is defined as the death of newborn lambs during the first 28 days of their life. Neonatal lamb mortality reduces significantly the productivity of sheep flocks. A realistic target for neonatal lamb mortality rate in a well-managed flock should be 3%; the upper acceptable limit under any circumstances should be 5%. Effective control of the various disorders requires timely and accurate diagnosis of the cause of mortality. Initially, management practices in the flock should be evaluated, as they can affect neonatal mortality rate. Then, appropriate clinical and pathological examinations should be performed; the age at which lambs had died should be determined. The paper summarises the steps to be taken when investigating deaths of newborn lambs, as well as providing some guidelines regarding identification of potential causes of the deaths. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.