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Sheep bearing

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Donna Hamilton


20 August 2019

What's happening in the world of ewe bearings?  Unfortunately we are still limited to what we learnt back in 2001 about bearings in ewes from a trial carried out in Southland and the Hawkes Bay.

The following have been associated with increased risks of bearings in ewes
- access to salt in late pregnancy
- feeding swedes late pregnancy
- moderate to steep paddocks
- triplet ewes at highest risk, then twins
- shearing in the first half of pregnancy

You may be able to reduce your risk by keeping triplet (and twin) ewes on flatter paddocks. Get ewes off crop earlier - your singles will generally be OK on crop for longer. and remove salt.

During the study a number of things were identified as NOT associated with risk to bearings;
- thin vs fat ewes at the end of pregnancy
- weight gain or loss from scanning to lambing
- ewe tail length - magnesium levels
- amount of feed late pregnancy
- shearing 3 months before mating, or in the second half of pregnancy (protective)

Is this what you see on your farm?

If you do have bearing issues, take a hygienic approach to treatment. Using a mild disinfectant in water to clean the tissue will improve your success rate. Ensure you mark her, as she is likely to have a bearing again next year. Consider the use of anti inflammatories to improve discomfort and success of treatment. 

We are a currently, eagerly awaiting the outcome of a 2019  Vitamin D trial that is being conducted in North Canterbury


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