WA Livestock Disease Outlook - for producers

Weakness and deaths in Merino weaners

  • Weakness, collapse and deaths in one-year-old Merino weaners were investigated in the Great Southern.
  • In a flock of 1400, eight were found dead and 100 displayed signs of weakness.
  • The sheep had a body condition score of 2.5 and had been grazing oat stubbles with lupin grain supplementation since January.
  • A post-mortem on one sheep showed no significant visible lesions on the organs. The gastrointestinal tract showed widespread chronic inflammation, which was attributed to intestinal worms.
  • Tissue testing of the liver provided a diagnosis of vitamin E and selenium deficiency.
  • Further blood sampling from other sheep in the mob may assist in assessing the vitamin E and selenium status of the flock.
  • Any unexplained sudden deaths should be investigated by a vet to rule out exotic or reportable diseases.
  • Read more on vitamin E and selenium deficiency.