Rickets in lambs

Rickets is a condition we see in lambs where their bones become soft as they grow because of defective calcification. The condition occurs when ewes are lambed down on cereal crops (in particular oats) in autumn and continue to graze these highly productive crops throughout winter. It is years like this when we have an early autumn break that we are most likely to see this condition.

Typically the disease is noticed when sheep are mustered for weaning. Lambs will go down as handling results in fractures. Rickets is thought to be due to a dietary deficiency or disturbance in the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D.

Producers are always advised to provide a loose lick of salt, lime and causmag when grazing cereal crops however in this situation these licks may not be enough to prevent rickets in lambs.

Consideration should be given to treating lambs with Vitamin D at marking and/or weaning. The easiest way to do this is with an injection of Hideject AD and E. It is important that this brand of AD and E is used as other brands will not have adequate Vitamin D in them.

For further information, please contact your local District Vet with the Central West Local Land Services at the Forbes Office on 6850 1600.

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