Leading causes of sheep deaths in winter 2018 revealed

The leading causes of sheep deaths in the winter months of 2018 have been revealed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in its latest Regional Veterinary Laboratory (RVL) Report.

The latest report covers the months of October, November and December 2018 – comprising the fourth quarter (Q4) of that year.

The data shows that, of the 220 sheep carcasses on which post-mortems were carried out by RVLs, almost 40 were diagnosed with parasitic gastro-enteritis – the top diagnosed cause of death for sheep.

Enteritis, pneumonia and bacteremia/septicemia were each responsible for approximately 15 sheep deaths.

The remaining six causes among the top 10 were (in decreasing order of frequency): pulp kidney disease; poisoning; ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma / jaagsiekte; acidosis ruminal; encephalitis; and enteritis/pneumonia.

The report also presents the data for sheep deaths according to system or cause, rather than by specific diagnosis.

These figures show that alimentary tract disease was responsible for almost 35% of deaths – over twice as much as respiratory disease, the second most common cause, at just under 15%.

Systemic disease was responsible for just over 10% of deaths, while ‘no diagnosis’ was listed for a similar number of carcasses examined.

The report highlights that the number of carcasses submitted in Q4 2018 was up on the amount for the same period in 2017.

The report also points out that acute fasciolosis (liver fluke) did not feature in the list of top 10 causes of deaths for the first time in “several years”.

The department is predicting lower disease risk than usual for liver fluke for most of the country.