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Author Topic: Scour in pet lambs  (Read 1258 times)

Paul and Caroline

  • Joined Apr 2014
Scour in pet lambs
« on: April 16, 2018, 06:52:12 pm »
Hi

Looking for help re scour in pet lambs. We act as a 'nursery' for one of our farmer neighbours and thus is the second year we are bringing up his pet lambs until weaning, after which they go back to him for fattening etc. The oldest ones are now just 2 weeks old and the youngest just short of a week - we have 130 of them so far. We are now finding they are coming down with scour. Yesterday and today we lost 2 each day within hours of the first sign of scour. This happened last year (although nowhere near as severely) and cryptosporidium was diagnosed by the vet. Looking for suggestions as to how to avoid this happening year on year? We keep the lambs in pens of 5, using a deep litter system. We scrupulously top up the straw bedding with a layer of sanitising powder every time. Feed apparatus is sterilised daily and we quarantine any jambs displaying signs of scour. It is not practical for us to change footwear every time we enter a pen (we have nearly 30 pens set up) nor to have a foot bath at every pen. We get all the vetinary support we need via the farmer but obviously would prefer prevention rather than cure - can anyone see what we are doing wrong (or might do better) to prevent or at least minimise future outbreaks?
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shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Argyll
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2018, 08:51:55 pm »
Have your vets not come up with a plan ?  Does Spectam scour halt or similar not help ?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2018, 11:27:36 pm »
I had a terrible year one year in the lambing pens, weather appalling, couldn't get anyone out.  Watery mouth and worse was rife, we lost a lot of lambs we shouldn't have lost. 

That decided me that deep litter and lambs do not go together.  Cleaning out the pen thoroughly, letting it dry properly, disinfecting / liming before next use is my way now.

So I would advocate that in your cade pens too.  Yes top up on a daily basis but do a deep thorough clean of every pen once every 7-10 days.  If you've got 130 pets in pens of 5, you've got 26 pens?  So if you do two or three each day, you do them all over the course of 10 days.  If you do 4 a day, you do them all in the course of a week.

I take the point about not being practical to disinfect wellies, but try to organise your setup so you don't have to go into the pens very much at all.  I reared a pile of cades every year in Cumbria and only really stepped into the pens to clean them out.  All feeds and water were accessible by leaning over from the outside.

If you simply have to walk into the pens, start each round with disinfected wellies and go into the most recently cleaned out pen first, then into the next most recently and so on.  So if there is infection breeding over a number of days, you're not taking it from a dirty pen into a clean.

How are you feeding them and where does the spilled milk go?  It's a good plan to clean up the spilled milk and the ground it's fallen on more often than doing the whole pen.  Most bacteria lurve milk as a growing medium :)

As well as your wellies, think about your hands.  What are you touching in each pen and what do you touch in the next?  If you've got shitty lambs, don't touch them or anything they've touched (as far as is practicable), and wash your hands (or wear gloves and wash or change the gloves) before touching another batch of lambs.

I'll probably have some more ideas once I know a bit more about how you've got it organised, how and what you feed them, and so on.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

sheeponthebrain

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Turriff
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 05:23:07 am »
I've had cryptosporidium amongst january lambs twice in the last 20 years
once it came from a shared water supply between lambing ewes and cows.  next time it came from (someone who shall remain nameless) feeding an old pet cow with one of the sheep water buckets then reusing it for the sheep.

what I'm trying to say is if you can isolate where the crypto is coming from, that s half the battle.  And it could be something really simple, or it could even be a contaminated private water supply.  hope this helps.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 09:42:26 am »
What disinfectant are you using ? Rearing that amount of lambs it ought to be cleaned out regularly not deep littered. Most disinfectants don’t touch crypto- Kilko make one that kills crypto though so it would be worth looking into using that regularly. Agree on cleaning out at least once a week, don’t leave the litter build up.

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 11:58:17 am »
From the original post I took it that last year Crypto was identified but that this year, as yet, there is no confirmed cause?


With that number of young lambs the potential for something taking hold and causing a high number of fatalities is a serious threat so I would look to identify the cause and eliminate as quickly as possible. I would advise consulting the vet.


You have to consider whether the infection is coming in from the first farm.


I agree with the comments about deep littering. Sally has given some really good advice about trying to prevent spread. I also agree with the comment about checking what your disinfectant kills and for how long when used as a foot dip.

Paul and Caroline

  • Joined Apr 2014
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2018, 07:07:58 pm »
I had a terrible year one year in the lambing pens, weather appalling, couldn't get anyone out.  Watery mouth and worse was rife, we lost a lot of lambs we shouldn't have lost. 

That decided me that deep litter and lambs do not go together.  Cleaning out the pen thoroughly, letting it dry properly, disinfecting / liming before next use is my way now.

So I would advocate that in your cade pens too.  Yes top up on a daily basis but do a deep thorough clean of every pen once every 7-10 days.  If you've got 130 pets in pens of 5, you've got 26 pens?  So if you do two or three each day, you do them all over the course of 10 days.  If you do 4 a day, you do them all in the course of a week.

I take the point about not being practical to disinfect wellies, but try to organise your setup so you don't have to go into the pens very much at all.  I reared a pile of cades every year in Cumbria and only really stepped into the pens to clean them out.  All feeds and water were accessible by leaning over from the outside.

If you simply have to walk into the pens, start each round with disinfected wellies and go into the most recently cleaned out pen first, then into the next most recently and so on.  So if there is infection breeding over a number of days, you're not taking it from a dirty pen into a clean.

How are you feeding them and where does the spilled milk go?  It's a good plan to clean up the spilled milk and the ground it's fallen on more often than doing the whole pen.  Most bacteria lurve milk as a growing medium :)

As well as your wellies, think about your hands.  What are you touching in each pen and what do you touch in the next?  If you've got shitty lambs, don't touch them or anything they've touched (as far as is practicable), and wash your hands (or wear gloves and wash or change the gloves) before touching another batch of lambs.

I'll probably have some more ideas once I know a bit more about how you've got it organised, how and what you feed them, and so on.

Hi Sally

Lots to reply to there!

We have 26 pens or thereabouts and 1 quarantine pen where we were putting our scouting lambs into, until numbers overwhelmed us - last count 22 affected lambs. We use Cosisan to disinfect and it is described as a broad Spectrum disinfectant. The pens abutt each other and we have up to 5 in a row so if the lambs are at the back we have to get in to bottle feed the ones not on a machine yet. We feed three times a day wearing latex type gloves and there are 2 of us, which would mean over 100 glove changes every day if we both changed at every pen. Since my post yesterday things escalated and we had 6 lambs die within 4-6 hours of the first sign of scour. We called the vet in and she prescribed Baytril and last night we jagged the whole lot. This morning we awoke to no more dead lambs thankfully although there were a couple of new cases. The affected lambs are on a 5 day course of scour halt as well. We spent the whole of today cleaning and mucking out. Unfortunately we don't have the space to let the pens dry before re-bedding them so we did the best we could. Most if the lambs are now on 5 test feed bars (wydales) or buckets and we stripped all of them right down and soaked everything in a Milton solution (we filled the bath up and put the feeders themselves into that). The milk replacer is prepared in a separate room to the pens (where our water heater is) and to be honest we get very little spillage in and around the pens. When I said deep litter I suppose that was a bit misleading. We do a full change when the straw bedding gets so deep the lambs could almost step over the pen gates and as we have had these lambs for just about 2 weeks today would have been the day we did a full change anyway (the straw was over a foot deep and very heavy!). I read on the Cosisan bag that it can be used as a dry foot bath so we are giving that a go as well - few tears from both of us last night and not just from exhaustion........

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 10:40:17 pm »
Sounds like you’ve mostly done all you can but I would suggest a thorough disinfectant with a liquid disinfectant with a hand held pump sprayer- anything the lambs come into contact with be it housing, equipment, spray it down. And foot dip too. Kilco disinfectant is called Cyclex and specifically lists crypto as one of the bugs it will kill- we used sorgene and virkon lsp last year, they are strong but even they don’t kill crypto. I’m not sure a bedding disinfectant in this case is going to be enough? Since we got crypto in calves we have been actively spray disinfecting all pens and handling equipment which seems to have reduced the amount of bugs in our calving/lambing shed. Glove changes would be good too- yes it’s expensive but rearing lambs on this scale requires pristine hygiene conditions and as much disease control as possible

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2018, 10:50:50 pm »
I think no disinfectant is designed to or can work on wet dirty straw.  They're designed for a clean dry surface - the washed floor in other words, and then the likes of Cosisan and lime also help the straw that's put on top to absorb more fluid and hence last longer.  But I'd be very surprised if the manufacturers would expect it to be used by layering in a deep littering system.

I hear what you say about banks of pens 5 deep.  It's maybe not something you can change for this year, but perhaps before next time you could think about having walkways alongside the pens so you can access the lambs in every pen without having to step into the pens.  It might make the pens a little smaller, but worth it if it helps stop the spread of infection.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

sheeponthebrain

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Turriff
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2018, 08:01:20 am »
do you know where the crypto has came from?

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2018, 09:27:04 am »
It sounds as though you're doing a lot right and thinking hard about the problem.  The source of infection is key.  Many good points have been made and I agree that access to pens from outside is preferable.  Are the pens on concrete?  Soil-based allows urine to drain away and stays much drier over a period of time than concrete.  We muck out the sheds as soon as lambing is over and leave them empty.  We have a pole barn set up and let sunlight disinfect them.  Occasionally we have to keep a ewe and lambs in a mothering up pen for longer than 2-3 days and prefer to put them on shallow straw beds and muck out every couple of days, or move them to an entirely clean pen.

Paul and Caroline

  • Joined Apr 2014
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2018, 12:04:18 am »
Sounds like you’ve mostly done all you can but I would suggest a thorough disinfectant with a liquid disinfectant with a hand held pump sprayer- anything the lambs come into contact with be it housing, equipment, spray it down. And foot dip too. Kilco disinfectant is called Cyclex and specifically lists crypto as one of the bugs it will kill- we used sorgene and virkon lsp last year, they are strong but even they don’t kill crypto. I’m not sure a bedding disinfectant in this case is going to be enough? Since we got crypto in calves we have been actively spray disinfecting all pens and handling equipment which seems to have reduced the amount of bugs in our calving/lambing shed. Glove changes would be good too- yes it’s expensive but rearing lambs on this scale requires pristine hygiene conditions and as much disease control as possible

Hi Twizzel - do you spray disinfect before, after and/or during the lambing or/calving time? I have taken on board lots of the advice given but most of it I can only introduce next year. I will run at maybe 75% capacity which will give me the facility of a number of 'spare' pens which will be rotated to allow drying out. We did power wash the whole area after last seasons lambing and again before this season started  but it doesn't seem to have been very effective.......

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2018, 07:38:01 am »
Yeah I spray all equipment before, then as and when pens are mucked out I’ll spray. Normally you can rebed fairly quick after disinfecting, within an hour or so. Then when everything is cleaned out after the cows and sheep have gone out. It seems to have curbed the severity of any bugs we get. Once you get into the habit of disinfecting regularly then it’s not too much trouble

pharnorth

  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2018, 08:56:22 am »
My experience is more with pharmaceutical clean rooms than intensive farming but I do know a fair amount about disinfecting. Most of this you already have, some might be implementable this year:
The power washing reduces the substrate that will harbour germs but won't kill them. It is important to do this before and after your activity as the more stuff about the more likely disinfecting will fail.  So also spraying with disinfectant as Twizzel says.
Disinfectant requires a contact time to be effective. This time depends on the actual disinfectant. Some of this may be published- we used to test but you can't do this - in the absence of better information I can tell you most disinfectants require at least 30 mins to an hour contact time so useful to know this when you are swilling out. This is actually more important than the concentration used. The wait time when re bedding pens means you must have more pens or less lambs.
The most common cause of infection getting out of control in a 'clean area' is over crowding. Your decision to run at 75% capacity next year is very sensible. I would go a step further and suggest that actually is your 100% capacity as you need the remaining space to ensure cleaner conditions and create an isolation pen or two as contingency. Again my experience in clean rooms is you start at well below capacity and nudge it up year on year as you prove with use that your practices are working and in a situation like yours the first thing would be to significantly reduce numbers for next year.  Sorry you have had such a rotten time of it, I hope it is getting better and you are both up for cracking this next year.


Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Scour in pet lambs
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2018, 02:26:21 pm »
It might also be helpful to know what the lambing protocol is on the supply farm.  Do the ewes receive a clostridial disease booster jab 4 weeks before lambing's due to begin?  Are the ewes fed cake in the run up to lambing?  Are they lambed indoors or out?  How clean are the sheds if indoors?  Is the pasture poached if outdoors?  Are all water supplies in the lambing shed and yours mains-fed?  Are drinkers scrubbed out and left to dry before being refilled when the sheds are occupied?  Are umbilical cords dipped once or twice?  Do all lambs receive powdered colostrum if not suckling within a couple of hours at most?   All these will have a varying influence on how robust the lambs are when they come to you and how well thay can cope with the variety of disease challenges and stress factors they will face being raised as cade lambs.

 

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