SHEEP - Preventing Twin Lamb Disease

5 Jan 2017

Twin Lamb Disease (TLD) can occur in thin or over fat ewes and is triggered by a stressful event such as a change in weather, change in diet or foot problems which results in a critical shortage of blood glucose causing a demand on the ewe using her backfat for energy. This backfat travels to the liver to be processed into energy but if excessive amounts are mobilised, the liver struggles to cope. With a rapid and large load on the liver, the fat breakdown is not completed; ketones begin forming and the ewe begins to suffer from TLD.

The classic way to help prevent TLD is to supply the ewe with an easily available source of soluble carbohydrate or ‘instant energy’ capable of maintaining blood glucose levels. The inclusion of propylene glycol is a more effective option than supplying molasses or feed grain which require to be broken down in the rumen before it can be utilised. Propylene glycol is absorbed quickly in the system as an ’instant energy’ source to combat TLD.

A molassed feed bucket that includes propylene glycol is an ideal solution; Energyze Vitality, developed by Harbro contains propylene glycol and allows the ewe to graze “on demand”. It provides regular intakes of sugars and is an extremely palatable vehicle for delivering other key nutrients which the ewe requires. Vegetable fats and oils are energy sources which are worth noting. The majority of feed buckets have a high inclusion of fats or oils as their energy source with typical levels ranging from 10-14%. This also needs to be processed into energy via the liver putting an even greater strain on the ewe’s liver which under stress may already be overloaded. It is therefore advised to feed a product with low fat/oil levels (around 2%) and sources of ‘instant energy’ such as propylene glycol that do not require to be processed through the liver, thus alleviating the strain.

In addition to Twin Lamb, the ewe can experience other health issues pre- and post-lambing. Energyze Vitality includes the key nutrients omega 3 fish oils, by-pass proteins, protected selenium source in the form of Sel-Plex, mannans (oligosaccharides), zinc, cobalt, vitamins B12 and E and salt which provide additional protection to the ewe and her lambs helping to improve lamb birth weights, lamb vigour and lamb vitality.

Lambs that suckle faster and benefit from earlier colostrum help the farmer achieve reduced mortality rates and an easier lambing.

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