Skip to main content

Improved understanding of the transmission of mastitis in ewes and strategies for its control

Mastitis is defined as an inflammation of the mammary gland, usually caused by bacterial infection. It is an endemic disease, meaning it is has a constant presence within the population, and impacts on farm economics and the health and welfare of affected animals. Mastitis has been ranked as the most important disease affecting suckler ewes and potential costs to the sheep industry have been estimated in excess of £120 million/annum.

Whilst we have begun to understand aspects such as the major causative agents and some risk factors of mastitis, within flock transmission routes and effective control mechanisms have yet to be established. My PhD project aims to approach these questions.

The aims of my project are:

  • Conduct a systematic literature review of risk factors for mastitis to formulate hypotheses for an on farm trial
  • Test “best practice” hygiene in a within-flock clinical trial
  • Complete laboratory analysis of samples from trial to investigate mastitis transmission
  • Survey sheep farmers on lambing and weaning management and mastitis levels

The outcome of the systematic review identified hygiene as an important risk factor for mastitis. A commercial indoor lambing flock was recruited to test a "best practice" hygiene intervention. Repeated microbiological samples from twin bearing ewes were taken over time and also from ewes with acute mastitis. MALDI-TOF-MS will be used to identify species and strains isolated from cultures of collected samples.


Research Team:

Louise Whatford


Professor Laura Green


Dr Kevin Purdy


Dr Corinna Clark


Industry supervisor:

Dr Liz Genever



AHDB Beef & Lamb

AHDB project page