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Investigating Sheep Abortions

26 January 2021

Lambing is underway for many pedigree flocks and will be due to start soon for lots of others.  As such, SRUC Veterinary services are starting to see sheep abortions coming into the lab.  Abortion investigations can help to reduce the incidence this year and hopefully help to prevent abortions next year.

Ideally, investigate all abortions, but certainly if the losses involve more than 3% of the flock, or where there is more than one case within a week.

Aborted lambs and placentas can be submitted to your local post-mortem centre, or your vet can collect samples and submit them via post.

In the event of an outbreak:

  • isolate aborted ewes for at least one month;
  • reduce stocking density;
  • keep groups static;
  • dispose of any aborted material and surrounding bedding;
  • be aware of the zoonotic potential of many abortion pathogens (especially re. children and pregnant women).

Aborted ewes can also be tested to look for evidence of infectious causes of abortion.

Catriona Dykes,

a texel cross ewe with Scottish mule ewes

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