Friday, 19 January 2024 09:55

Avoiding pneumonia at a high-risk time

Written by  Staff Reporters
Some simple management ideas can reduce the risk of production limiting diseases like pneumonia and pleurisy in lambs. Some simple management ideas can reduce the risk of production limiting diseases like pneumonia and pleurisy in lambs.

Weaning, drafting, drenching and shearing create the perfect environment for pneumonia and pleurisy in lambs.

However, some simple management ideas can reduce the risk of these production limiting diseases.

Pneumonia is a disease that causes lesions in the lungs. The most common form is Chronic Non-Progressive Pneumonia which can be caused by bacteria, mycobacteria or viruses.

Symptoms are usually not obvious, although lambs will be slower growing and often pant and cough following exercise.

Lambs with pneumonia are more likely to develop pleurisy, which is where lungs stick to the chest wall. At processing, affected carcasses are downgraded or condemned.

A 2000/2001 study carried out on a database of 1719 farms in Canterbury, Manawatu and Gisborne found the prevalence of pneumonia ranged from 0–100% per flock. But on average, flocks had 24% of lambs affected.

The number of flocks with some pneumonia present ranged from 40–70% – in other words it is very common and costly. Slower growing lambs cost more to feed and then their carcasses are downgraded.

Risk factors include high temperatures and humidity, crowding, stress, dust, excessive exercise, poor ventilation, low immunity and high parasite burdens.

Preventing Pneumonia

  • A healthy animal with good nutrition, up-to-date animal health and minimal stressors are at reduced risk of developing pneumonia.
  • Keep the time of yarding lambs to a minimum.
  • Water the yards before use to reduce dust.
  • Keep mob sizes small to reduce animal stress and dust inhalation.
  • Avoid shearing lambs at weaning.
  • Minimise the stock movement in the middle of the day when dust levels are highest and avoid long distance movements where possible.
  • Reduce the extent and duration of open-mouth panting when mustering or droving lambs.
  • Satellite yards can reduce long-distance movements. Try and reduce pressure on lambs when droving, laneways are ideal as allow lamb to drift at their own pace.

More like this

Explore calving conditions when winter grazing

Planning to calve in the right conditions is essential for cow and calf health. Avoid calving in muddy conditions to decrease the risk of death and infections for both the cow and the calf.


Farmers back ACT MP's bill

ACT MP and Northland dairy farmer Mark Cameron is lodging a new member’s bill that would prevent regional and district councils from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Calls for more support for vets, nurses

The animal health sector needs to change to keep up with the times, according to the discussion at a breakfast event hosted by Boehringer Ingelheim at the NZ Vet Association and NZ Veterinary Nursing Association conference in Christchurch recently.


Govt unveils climate strategy

The Government has launched its new Climate Strategy, which it says is a comprehensive and ambitious plan to reduce the…

Machinery & Products

More efficient jumbo wagons

In a move that will be welcomed by many, Austrian manufacturer Pottinger appears to be following a trend of bringing…

Fieldays' top young innovator

Growing up on a South Waikato sheep and beef farm, Penny Ranger has firsthand experience on the day-to-day challenges.

Claas completes 500,000th machine

Claas is celebrating half a million combine harvesters built since 1936, marking the occasion by building anniversary machines from the…

Donated tractors welcome news

When Cyclone Gabrielle hit in February 2023, it left an estimated $13.5 billion worth of damage across New Zealand.

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Fieldays focused

OPINION: Your old mate had a wee crack at Fieldays recently for the perception it was more focused on quantity…

'Woke madness'

OPINION: Real estate agent Janet Dickson's court case, following her refusal to complete a compulsory Māori culture course, is being watched…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter