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Abortion and lamb mortality between pregnancy scanning and lamb marking for maiden ewes in southern Australia

Clune, T., Lockwood, A., Hancock, S.ORCID: 0000-0002-4115-4642, Thompson, A.N.ORCID: 0000-0001-7121-7459, Beetson, S., Campbell, A.J.D., Glanville, E., Brookes, D., Trengove, C., O’Handley, R., Kearney, G. and Jacobson, C.ORCID: 0000-0001-9427-1941 (2021) Abortion and lamb mortality between pregnancy scanning and lamb marking for maiden ewes in southern Australia. Animals, 12 (1). Article 10.

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The contribution of abortions to the overall mortality of lambs born to maiden (primiparous) ewes in Australia remains unclear. This cohort study aimed to quantify abortion and lamb mortality for ewe lambs and maiden Merino two-tooth ewes. Lamb mortality from pregnancy scanning to marking were determined for 19 ewe lamb and 11 Merino two-tooth ewe flocks across southern Australia. Average lamb mortality from scanning to marking was 35.8% (range 14.3–71.1%) for the ewe lambs and 29.4% (range 19.7–52.7%) for the two-tooth ewes. Mid-pregnancy abortion was detected in 5.7% of ewes (range 0–50%) in the ewe lamb flocks and 0.9% of ewes (range 0–4.4%) in the two-tooth ewe flocks. Mid-pregnancy abortion affecting ≥2% of ewes was observed in 6/19 ewe lamb flocks and 2/11 two-tooth ewe flocks. Lamb mortality from birth to marking represented the greatest contributor to foetal and lamb mortality after scanning, but mid-pregnancy abortion was an important contributor to lamb mortality in some ewe lamb flocks. Variability between the flocks indicates scope to improve the overall reproductive performance for maiden ewes by reducing foetal and lamb losses. Addressing mid-pregnancy abortion may improve the reproductive performance in some flocks.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Animal Production and Health
Food Futures Institute
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2021 by the authors
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