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Production responses and cost-benefit of long-acting pre-lambing anthelmintic treatment of yearling ewes in two commercial flocks in New Zealand

Authors: Miller CM, Ridler AL, Leathwick DM, Ganesh S, Garland CB, Bruce HM
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 105-108, Mar 2019
Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Article class: Short Communication

AIMS: To investigate the production responses and cost-benefit of administering a controlled-release anthelmintic capsule (CRC) to pregnant yearling ewes prior to lambing.

METHODS: Yearling ewes from two commercial sheep flocks (A, n=489; B, n=248) in the North Island of New Zealand were enrolled in the study. Prior to lambing, CRC containing albendazole and abamectin were administered to half the ewes while the other half remained untreated. Ewe liveweights and body condition scores were measured prior to lambing, at weaning and, for Flock B, prior to subsequent mating. Lambs were matched to dams shortly after birth and the weight and number of lamb weaned per ewe were determined. A cost-benefit analysis was undertaken for Flock B considering the increased weight of lamb weaned per ewe, and the weight of ewes at the next mating and the benefit in terms of lambs born.

RESULTS: The mean weight at weaning of treated ewes was greater for treated than untreated ewes by 2.76 (95% CI 0.64–4.88) kg in Flock A (p<0.001) and 2.35 (95% CI −0.41–5.12) kg in Flock B (p=0.003); the weight of lamb weaned per ewe was greater for treated than untreated ewes by 1.43 (95% CI −0.71 to –3.49) kg in Flock A (p=0.041) and 3.97 (95% CI 1.59–6.37) kg in Flock B (p<0.001), and ewe liveweight prior to subsequent mating was greater for treated than untreated ewes in Flock B by 4.60 (95% CI 3.6–5.6) kg (p<0.001). There was no difference in the percentage of lambs reared to weaning between treated and untreated ewes in either flock (p>0.8). The overall cost-benefit of treatment for Flock B was NZ$9.44 per treated ewe.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Pre-lambing CRC administration to yearling ewes resulted in increased ewe weaning weights and weight of lamb weaned in both the flocks studied. There was an economic benefit in the one flock where this was assessed.

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