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How can I prevent joint illness in my lambs?

How can I prevent joint illness in my lambs?

Joint Illness

Two-thirds of all joint ill cases are caused by the bacteria Streptococcus Dysgalactiae – the same bacteria that cause mastitis in cows. The other third of cases are preventable through adequate colostrum uptake.

Sources of S. Dysgalactiae include the ewe’s teats, shepherd’s hands and clothing, feeders, teats and tubes, tags, taggers and castration equipment, as well as in the environment - S. Dysgalactiae can lie dormant in dry straw.

Q: How does S. Dysgalactiae enter and infect the lamb?
A: Through its nose or mouth, through the naval, at the site of castration, docking or tagging.

Top Tips for prevention: 


Adequate colostrum intake equips the lamb with a more integral immune function (see last month’s lambing e-newsletter for all things colostrum)


Relevant both in the pre-lambing area and bonding pens. Stocking the lambing shed too densely can make hygiene more difficult. Once 10 ewe and lamb outfits have been through a bonding pen it becomes highly contaminated with bacteria. Have enough pens to keep use down. Where possible clean out, disinfect and re-bed pens between use, where this is not possible use a disinfectant bedding powder between uses and keep them well-bedded, clean and dry

Dip Navels

Using iodine once at birth and again 12 hours later. Keep the iodine in your dip cup fresh

Feeding Equipment

Clean (in hot water) and sterilise all lamb feeding equipment between use. If it is not possible to do this every time, get extras in so one is always ready and sterile

Ears and Tags

Swab ears and tags with surgical spirit when tagging young lambs


Keep hands, boots and clothing clean and disinfected, so as not to spread bacteria from one area of the lambing shed to others


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