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Article

A Survey of New South Wales Sheep Producer Practices and Perceptions on Lamb Mortality and Ewe Supplementation

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Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (NSW Department of Primary Industries and Charles Sturt University), Albert Pugsley Place, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia
2
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia
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College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, 784 Wilson Road, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
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Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1586; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091586
Received: 10 August 2020 / Revised: 3 September 2020 / Accepted: 3 September 2020 / Published: 5 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Small Ruminants)
High lamb mortality rates following birth reduce on-farm profitability and contribute to perceived lower animal welfare standards of the sheep industry. The aim of this study was to understand producer knowledge of lamb mortality rates, causes of lamb mortality, and to investigate practices and perceptions of producers that may contribute to lamb deaths. Approximately 50% of producers estimated less than 10% lamb mortality between birth and marking, compared to published data in Australia reporting around 20–25% mortality rate. Clostridial vaccination of lambs was undertaken by 96% of producers; however, 17% of Merino and 23% of crossbred lamb producers indicated only one vaccination was administered, instead of the recommended initial vaccination plus booster. This lower estimated mortality rate and misuse of vaccination may lead to producers underestimating the perceived benefits of management strategies, as the number of lambs lost is of less concern. It is important producers are aware of the actual on-farm lamb losses to allow accurate determination of the benefits of management strategies, such as pre-lambing supplementation and vaccination.
High lamb mortality rates reduce profitability and reduce the perceived animal welfare standards of the industry. This study aimed to understand producer knowledge of lamb mortality rates and causes of lamb mortality, and to investigate various practices and perceptions of producers that may contribute to lamb deaths. Postal and online surveys gathered data on Australian sheep producer’s knowledge and practices around lambing and management practices. Based on results, approximately 50% of producers estimated less than 10% mortality of lambs between birth and marking, compared to published data estimates of 20–25% mortality. Pre-lambing vaccination of ewes was not undertaken by 10–20% of producers. Ninety-six percent of producers vaccinated lambs; however, 17% of Merino and 23% of crossbred lamb producers only gave a single vaccination instead of the recommended initial vaccine and booster. The lower estimated mortality impacts producer’s perceived benefits of management strategies being undertaken. Research undertaken needs to be more effectively distributed to producers via extension services to ensure producers understand the causes of mortality. Important messages to convey to producers include the limited impact of predation in most cases and the total costs of lamb mortality on-farm. View Full-Text
Keywords: sheep production; lambing; mortality; starvation; predation; mis mothering; supplementation sheep production; lambing; mortality; starvation; predation; mis mothering; supplementation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kopp, K.; Hernandez-Jover, M.; Robertson, S.; Abuelo, A.; Friend, M. A Survey of New South Wales Sheep Producer Practices and Perceptions on Lamb Mortality and Ewe Supplementation. Animals 2020, 10, 1586. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091586

AMA Style

Kopp K, Hernandez-Jover M, Robertson S, Abuelo A, Friend M. A Survey of New South Wales Sheep Producer Practices and Perceptions on Lamb Mortality and Ewe Supplementation. Animals. 2020; 10(9):1586. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091586

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kopp, Kayla, Marta Hernandez-Jover, Susan Robertson, Angel Abuelo, and Michael Friend. 2020. "A Survey of New South Wales Sheep Producer Practices and Perceptions on Lamb Mortality and Ewe Supplementation" Animals 10, no. 9: 1586. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091586

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