Wednesday, 28 February 2024 14:55

Udderly vital post weaning job

Written by  Staff Reporters
Studies on lower North Island farms have shown that 2-7% (average around 5%) of mixed-age ewes have udder defects. Studies on lower North Island farms have shown that 2-7% (average around 5%) of mixed-age ewes have udder defects.

Around 5% of ewes in New Zealand will have problems with their udders (udder defects).

These can lead to reduced lamb survival and growth rates. It's a good idea to check udders 4 - 6 weeks after weaning so that affected ewes can be identified and culled.

Studies on lower North Island farms have shown that 2-7% (average around 5%) of mixed-age ewes have udder defects. The lambs that are born to ewes with udder defects will have a reduced chance of survival - their death rate is 3-4 times higher compared with lambs whose dams had a normal udder. Lambs that do survive grow an averafe of 25g less per day so their average weaning weight is around 2kg.

Because of these effects, ewes with udder defects will wean around 11 less kg of lamb compared with ewes with normal udders. The generalised hardness of the udder is often called mastitis. If the infection is recent the udder will be hot and swollen. More commonly, the infection has been there for some time and the udder half or halves will simply feel very hard all over.

If the affected udder half is 'milked' by gently squeezing the teat, in recent infections the secretion might be watery, bloody or clotted. However, if the udder has been infected for some time the secretion may be very thick and discoloured or there may be no secretion at all.

Note that just after weaning the udder is often quite firm as it is full of milk, however an udder half with generalised hardness will be very firm/hard. Ewes with generalised hardness/mastitis in one or both udder halves should be culled.

Checking Udders

Many farmers check ewes' udders at weaning or shortly thereafter.

However, many ewes with apparently normal udders at weaning are found to have udder defects 4 - 6 weeks later. This is probably due to post-weaning mastitis and possibly also because it is easier to feel some defects once the udder has dried-off.

In research studies it has been found that checking ewe udders a few weeks prior to mating (rather than at weaning) is a better predictor of how udders will affect lamb survival and growth for the coming season. 

It is therefore recommended to check udders 4 - 6 weeks after weaning in order to find the maximum number of affected ewes but still have time to finalise ewe numbers after mating.

- Source: Beef+Lamb NZ

More like this

Farmers fined for cattle abuse

A Waikato cattle farming family have been fined $23,000 for failing to provide sufficient food and care for their animals, resulting in more than half a dozen animal deaths.

App trial yields promising results

An initial trial of an app, funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, has demonstrated significant results in reducing drench inputs during a small-scale study.

Setting calvers up for a top season

Ensuring autumn calvers are receiving a balanced ration of macro and micro minerals will go a long way to setting them up for a successful season.

Busybrook obsession pays off

The numbers suggest the cow families on offer at the upcoming Busybrook Holsteins sale in North Otago are as good as you’ll find anywhere.

Featured

Farmers fined for cattle abuse

A Waikato cattle farming family have been fined $23,000 for failing to provide sufficient food and care for their animals, resulting in more than half a dozen animal deaths.

App trial yields promising results

An initial trial of an app, funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, has demonstrated significant results in reducing drench inputs during a small-scale study.

National

Back to the tractor!

Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart is looking forward to spending more time on farm as he steps down after a…

Machinery & Products

PM opens new Power Farming facility

Morrinsville based Power Farming Group has launched a flagship New Zealand facility in partnership with global construction manufacturer JCB Construction.

AGTEK and ARGO part ways

After 12 years of representing the Landini and McCormick brands in New Zealand, Bay of Plenty-based AGTEK and the brands’…

100 years of Farmall Tractors

Returning after an enforced break, the Wheat and Wheels Rally will take place on the Lauriston -Barhill Road, North-East of…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Crazy

OPINION: Your canine crusader was truly impressed by the almost unanimous support given by politicians of all stripes in Parliament…

More!

OPINION: As this old mutt suggested in the last issue, MPI looks a very good candidate for some serious public…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter