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Mastitis in sheep

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Mastitis in sheep

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland (udder), usually caused by bacterial infection. There are many types of bacteria that can cause this infection. Some of these occur in the environment and others are carried by sheep. Some bacteria cause little or no damage whilst others can cause severe disease.

The involvement of many types of bacteria makes production of a vaccine against mastitis a long term goal rather than a short term possibility. Part of all control strategies must therefore be based on management practices, and for this an understanding of what makes some ewes develop mastitis is necessary.

Mastitis impacts on the health, welfare and productivity of sheep. It can result in:

  • loss of production of milk
  • altered milk composition
  • abscesses in the udder that are detected as ‘lumps’premature culling of the ewe
  • decreased live-weight gain in lambs
  • death of the ewe

Reduction in the occurrence of mastitis and intramammary infections would benefit the health and welfare of ewes and their lambs. It would increase sustainable production through an increased productive life of ewes and faster growing lambs.