Local sheep farmers are experiencing calcium deficient ewes known as hypocalcaemia. This is a common calcium disorder for ewes that becomes more frequent at lambing time.
This condition is common as the lamb is entirely dependent on the ewe to provide calcium to build strong bones for the first few weeks. The peak demand for calcium for a lamb is at 10 days of age, but that demand on the ewe steadily increases from midway through pregnancy, as the lamb’s bones begin to calcify.
Inadequate calcium supply by a ewe to her lamb means the lamb has lower bone calcium stores, and as an adult will be more at risk of hypocalcaemia when lamb- ing, perpetuating the risk into the next generation.
The disorder is more common in transported sheep and those in stressful situations, such as when yarded for shearing in winter.
Fortunately, if recognised early, a simple treatment with a calcium solution injected under the skin and oral supplements will affect a recovery in most sheep.
Farmers can influence the risk of hypocalcaemia by ensuring the ewes get fed a balanced diet, which contains at least 3 gm/kg DM calcium, and up to 5 gm/kg in ewes with multiple lambs. Legume forages are great sources of calcium, and cereal grains are poor.
Sourced from agriculture.vic.gov.au