Coccidiosis is caused by a group of protozoan parasites called Eimeria. Different strains of Eimeria affect different groups of animals and around seven types affect sheep.

It is mainly lambs around 4-7 weeks of age that display clinical symptoms including pernicious anaemia, diarrhoea (scouring) and emaciation but older animals can carry and excrete the oocytes that cause the problems.

Coccidiosis is usually associated with intensive systems, high stocking densities or where lambs are under stress.

Treating Coccidiosis

An adequate intake of colostrum will help lambs to cope with a coccidial infection. Other preventative measures include keeping pens and feeding troughs clean and dry, and avoiding grazing young and older lambs on the same pasture and in particular on pasture which has had ewes and lambs on it within the previous three weeks.

Remember, there are a number of causes of scouring in lambs, so if it is a problem, seek veterinary advice so that appropriate treatment can be administered.

Information on causes of abortion in sheep will be included in the section on Breeding Sheep.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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