Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Lambs lost at the last minute

A large number of stillborn lambs actually die during birth and good assistance can increase survival according to a Norwegian study. Professor Steinar Waage presented the findings of the study, which performed post-mortem examinations on 217 stillborn lambs, to the International Sheep Veterinary Congress at Rotorua in February.

He concluded that intrapartum deaths (occurring during birth) were a major cause of stillborn lambs, with 44.2% of the lambs stillborn.

Of the lambs that had intrapartum deaths, 37 of the lambs were found to have traumatic lesions, rib fractures, liver ruptures– or a combination of these.

The other 59 lambs were found to have amniotic fluid or a mixture of amniotic fluid and meconium in the lungs.

In more than half of these intrapartum deaths, lambing assistance was needed. In conclusion, Waage said intrapartum deaths were a major cause of stillbirths and showed that qualified birth assistance was important to lamb survival.

In 43% of the stillborns, no cause of death could be found.

Waage said a similar percentage of unexplained foetal deaths occurred in humans as well, and it could be due to inadequate diagnosis procedures. He suggested there needed to be further study of pregnant ewes and that should be a main focus of studies of stillbirth, in particular those with multiple pregnancies.

Some 98% of the 217 stillborn lambs were from multiple litters of two or more lambs.

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