Saturday, 3 March 2012
The first group of ewes are now over halfway through their lambing with only about 60 to go. Things have been going really well and the weather is almost perfect for putting young lambs and ewes out into the fields. Fortunately we have avoided the Schmallenberg disease which is a real worry in the back of our minds all the time. Every time a ewe lambs, it's fingers crossed to see what appears. There is absolutely nothing we can do for the lambs or the ewes if they have been bitten by the midges last year and contracted the disease. There is no vaccine available so we have to just wait and see what happens. It appears that the time of infection is during the first trimester of pregnancy and is affecting sheep lambing now. There are currently cases that have been identified in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire so it really is pot luck whether or not we escape. I guess with climate change, resulting in warmer drier weather ,we can expect to have more disease outbreaks like this in the future but it makes it very hard work to plan for our industry going forward. The last outbreak with similar threats would have been blue tongue about 4 years ago. The good news is that it is not transferable sheep to sheep, there are no restrictions on livestock movements and it can't be contracted by humans.