Sleepy Sickness / Twin Lamb Disease

Pregnancy toxaemia

With lambing season on the way it’s great to be prepared. Ensure your ewes have got enough food in the run up to lambing, especially if they are carrying multiple lambs. Pregnancy toxaemia is otherwise known as sleepy sickness or twin lamb disease. It is caused by an energy deficiency in late pregnancy, multiple bearing ewes when the lambs are growing quickly and the ewes cannot eat enough to keep up. Older ewes may also be more at risk as their teeth decline over 6 years old. It can start with the ewe separating herself from the flock but could lead to coma and death if not treated in time.

Prevent energy deficiency by step increasing the ewe nuts in the final 6 weeks of pregnancy up to ½ kg per ewe in the final 2 weeks of pregnancy. Also ensure the nuts are mineralised and if not the ewes may need a mineral lick to keep calcium and magnesium, cobalt and selenium levels accurate for healthy ewes and lambs.

If you do have a ewe unable to get up or slows down eating and is keeping herself away from the flock either call us to have a vet visit as soon as possible or you can come in and pick up a “sleepy sickness” ewe pack. The key is to give a big dose of energy in the form of oral Keto-aid or Ketol and mineral supplementation via injectable calcium/magnesium. She will also need a dose of anti-inflammatory to reduce muscle damage from being down.

TLC is an essential follow up to treatment, making sure the down sheep has water and feed in front of her. She may also require turning to make sure she isn’t lying on one leg too long and shelter from cold and rain. There is also a risk that the ewe may abort her lambs so monitor her for signs of parturition as she may need assistance.


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