Factors Associated with Ewe Death and Casting in an Extensively Farmed Sheep Flock in New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
MDPI (Basel, Switzerland)
(c) 2021 The Author/s
CC BY 4.0
Ewe deaths affect the productivity and profitability in sheep farming systems and have potential animal welfare and market perception implications. Internationally, there is scant data on the timing and causes of ewe deaths in extensive grazing systems. There is no published literature on the incidence and risk factors associated with casting (ewe in late gestation accidentally immobilised, often in dorsal recumbency). This study, undertaken using a cohort of 1789 ewes on a New Zealand farm, reports on the timing and risk factors associated with production parameters for ewe deaths through an almost two-year period, along with causes of death during both peripartum periods. Ewe deaths occurred throughout both years but were most frequent during the peripartum (pre-lambing to mid-lactation) period. Casting was the most commonly identified cause of death in both years, responsible for approximately a quarter to a third of potential annual mortality. Few risk factors for death or casting were identified. In conclusion, the peripartum period is a high-risk time period for ewe deaths (and, by extension, will also contribute to lamb perinatal mortality). In extensively grazed flocks where casting events occur, it is recommended that all ewes are monitored daily during the peripartum period.
ovine, mortality, wastage, longevity, survival, peripartum, lambing, dystocia, vaginal prolapse, shepherding
Capdevila-Ospina K, Corner-Thomas RA, Flay KJ, Kenyon PR, Ridler AL. (2021). Factors Associated with Ewe Death and Casting in an Extensively Farmed Sheep Flock in New Zealand. Ruminants. 1. 2. (pp. 87-99).