Generic Abortion Prevention Program: Sheep and Goats

(Lichtenwalner, AB; adapted from Sheep and Goat Medicine, Pugh D.G. ed.; Saunders 2002)

1. Management methods to avoid pregnancy loss:

  • Set up a biosecurity program to quarantine all new animals for as long as 30 days before introduction to the farm.
    • Keep first lambing and purchased ewes in separate areas from the rest of the flock.
    • Keep postpartum and prepartum females in separate pastures.
  • Maintain flock in a stress-free, sanitary, uncrowded environment.
  • Manage nutritional schemes to maintain good body condition scores.
    • Offer a complete, good-quality trace mineral-salt mixture free choice.
    • Maintain a source of supplemental energy and protein for use during emergency or high stress situations.
  • Keep feed and water sources free of fecal-urine contamination.
    • If possible, never feed on the ground. If not, feed on fresh ground free of manure.
  • Avoid exposure to cows or hogs.
  • Reduce numbers of rats, wild or free-range birds, and cats.
    • If cats are used to control rodents and birds, keep only spayed adult cats.

2. Utilizing veterinary help to avoid pregnancy loss:

  • Where Chlamydia and Campylobacter(or other diseases causing abortion) are known to occur, keep breeding animals vaccinated
    • vaccinate at 4 and 2 months prepartum if not previously vaccinated
    • only one vaccination is required if there is a history of vaccination
  • Consider the use of a feed additive for control of coccidia and other possible pathogens during gestation. This should be done under a veterinarian’s guidance. These can be included in a grain supplement or mineral mixture.
  • Respond aggressively to any abortions in a flock
    • Diagnose the cause: submit chilled fetal samples (including placenta) to a diagnostic laboratory promptly.
    • Control spread: dispose of aborted tissue, separate aborting females from others, treat remaining animals under veterinary guidance