Health management of ewes during pregnancy
AuthorFthenakis, G. C.; Arsenos, G.; Brozos, C.; Fragkou, I. A.; Giadinis, N. D.; Giannenas, I.; Mavrogianni, V. S.; Papadopoulos, E.; Valasi, I.
The objectives of health management of ewes during pregnancy are as follows: (i) successful completion of pregnancy at term, (ii) birth of healthy and viable lambs, with optimal birth and potential weaning bodyweight, (iii) optimum milk production during the subsequent lactation and (iv) improved management in relation to drug residues in animal products. Knowledge of the physiological background of pregnancy in ewes: changes, mechanisms and interactions, during pregnancy is important for the overall health management of ewes during pregnancy. Health management of pregnant ewes includes diagnosis of pregnancy and evaluation of the number of foetuses borne, which will support strategies for subsequent management of the flock. Nutritional management of ewes depends upon the stage of lactation and specifically aims to (i) prevention of pregnancy toxaemia and other metabolic diseases during the peri-partum period, (ii) formation of colostrum in appropriate quantity and quality, (iii) production of lambs with normal future birth bodyweight and (iv) support of increased milk yield during the subsequent lactation. At the end of lactation, udder management of pregnant ewes includes its clinical examination, culling of ewes considered unsuitable for lactation and, possibly, the intramammary administration of antibiotics; objectives of that procedure are (i) to cure infections which have occurred during the previous lactation and (ii) to prevent development of new mammary infection during the dry period. Management of abortions includes the correct and timely diagnosis of the causative agent of the disorder, as well as the strategic administrations of chemotherapeutic agents, aiming to prevent abortions in flocks with confirmed infection with an abortifacient agent, especially if no appropriate vaccinations had been carried out before the mating season. During the final stage of pregnancy, health management of ewes includes administration of appropriate anthelmintic drugs, aiming to eliminate gastrointestinal helminthes (thus, increasing production output of ewes) and preventing the built-up of parasitic burdens in the environment (thus, reducing infection of lambs during their neonatal period). Vaccinations of pregnant ewes aim to protect these animals, as well as their offspring, especially against diseases which are a frequent cause of neonatal mortality (e.g., clostridial infections). Health management also aims to prevent the main metabolic disorders of pregnant ewes (i.e., pregnancy toxaemia and hypocalcaemia), as well as to monitor flocks for development of these disorders. Health management of pregnant ewes is completed with application of husbandry practices before the start of the lambing season. Finally, in some cases, health management may include induction and synchronisation of lambings, which is a management or therapeutic procedure. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.