With early lambing well and truly underway at this stage, it’s good for sheep farmers to be reminded of impending and current problems on Irish sheep farms nationwide. This week we look at Watery Mouth amongst newborn lambs.
Watery mouth is a contagious disease that affects newborn lambs and can be fatal in more cases than not if not controlled and prevented on your farm. Watery mouth is caused by a bacterial infection, usually by E Coli.
Lambs do not have the same immunity of sheep, as their stomachs aren’t acicidic enough to denature and destroy the bacteria. As a result, lambs from 1-3 days of age are most susceptible and any stress that would affect their intake of colostrum during this stage must be avoided.
Clinical signs include lethargy, a high temperature, drooling and constipation. The mouth of the infected lamb will be cold to the touch
Top Tips for Prevention
- Keep the ewes teats clean as these can be a source of E-Coli
- Provide enough colostrums within 6 hours when absorption is at its highest, where antibodies will be passed on
- In the case where there are triplets or more, foster it to a single ewe so it gets enough colostrum.
- Environment has a key role. Avoid poor hygiene, wet, damp and overcrowded areas where the bacteria will spread more easily.
- Vaccinating the ewes can prevent watery mouth in the first place.
If caught in time, successful treatment is possible. Broad spectrums of antibiotics are available and may be administered. Replacing lost fluids is generally a large part of the treatment plan when dealing with infections of watery mouth. These may be given orally or be injected. The lamb should be kept in a warm environment to increase the body temperature.