Sheep Bearing

what causes bearing issues in ewes

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.

- Donna Hamilton


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