Evaluation of Flock Health Management

In this section, the veterinarian and producer work through all areas of flock health management. To help identify issues that may be responsible for production losses, RED FLAGS direct the producer to problem areas. Also to help the producer understand the problem, each section is referenced to the Introduction to Sheep Production manual, produced by the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency which can be downloaded from its site. Producers and vets work through the assessment form and then complete the Flock Health Management Summary report (mandatory) to indicate problem areas and to make recommendations.

The form covers the following areas:

  • Reproductive management of the ewe including ram:ewe ratios, synchronization of breeding, out of season breeding and pregnancy diagnosis
  • Reproductive management of the ram including breeding soundness examination
  • Prevention of pregnancy toxaemia, abortion and vaginal prolapse
  • Improving survival of the lamb including pre-lambing and lambing management, treatment and prevention of starvation and chilling of lambs, reducing failure of the ewe to raise its lambs.
  • Controlling mastitis in ewes.
  • How to investigate lamb mortality.
  • Investigation of other common lamb diseases and how they can be controlled, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, soremouth, pink eye and urolithiasis.
  • Nutritional management of the flock, including body condition scoring and formulating rations
  • Prevention of nutritional diseases such as vitamin E selenium deficiency, copper toxicity, clostridial diseases and grain overload.
  • Control of parasites including internal and external parasites, coccidiosis and tapeworm damage from canines.
  • Control of predator losses.
  • Control of causes of lameness.
  • Investigation of causes of chronic wasting diseases and their control, such as dental disease, maedi visna, Johne's disease, caseous lymphadenitis and scrapie.
  • Over view of handling facilities, record keeping.
  • Issues of health management that can affect carcass quality such as injections, dog bites and drug residue avoidance.

Disease Status

If the flock veterinarian agrees, a score for risk of disease can be given for the more common diseases that affect sheep in Canada, using the Health Management Summary Report. This risk (low, moderate or high) is NOT the same as having a comprehensive testing protocol, but provides the owner with a scale of how much a particular disease appears to be affecting his/her flock. This risk CANNOT be used to advertise disease status unless the flock veterinarian is willing to agree to the advertisment. There cannot be a claim made for a flock being disease "free" but can only make a claim for risk as follows:

  • LOW RISK = no disease present / control measures excellent
  • MODERATE RISK = disease present in flock / control measures instituted but improvement required.
  • HIGH RISK = disease present and not controlled

The advertisement must specifically indicate that this risk was assigned as part of the Ontario Sheep Health program and not another disease status program.

Supplemental Forms

Included in the forms is a veterinary feed script form which can be used by the flock veterinarian when ordering non-approved medicated feeds, and a lamb necropsy form which can be used when investigating lamb mortality.