NSW sheep farmers are being reminded to check their rams for ovine Brucellosis (OB), a disease which causes infertility in rams.
OB is caused by the bacteria Brucella ovis, which targets the reproductive systems of rams. According to Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA) Senior District Veterinarian Dan Salmon, it’s important to eradicate the disease before it becomes a problem.
“OB can have a significant impact on productivity, so it’s in the best interests of farmers to not allow it to take a hold in their flock,” he said.
Ram wastage, low lamb-marking percentages and drawn out lambing periods are some of the effects of the disease, which can affect up to 50% of rams in a flock.
“It’s not hard to check for OB by feeling for lumps in the testicles, and if lumps are found the ram should be tested by a vet to confirm the diagnosis,” said Dr Salmon.
“It takes several tests over a few months to eradicate OB, so rams should be checked as soon as possible after the end of joining and the blood tests should start once the rams have been out of the ewes for four weeks.”
Testing for OB involves taking a blood sample from each individual ram and sending it to a laboratory. Costs vary depending on the region.
“The small cost of testing your rams is much less than the potentially significant economic losses of not testing and having OB affect the productivity of your enterprise,” said Dr Salmon.
For more information about the disease, testing and management of OB, please contact your local LHPA district veterinarian or private practitioner.