CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Country Smallholding today CLICK HERE

Virus hits early lambing

PUBLISHED: 16:57 10 January 2013 | UPDATED: 08:39 28 March 2014

JAN 10, 2013: There are worrying signs for farmers and smallholders as Schmallenberg virus has caused severe losses for some early lambers.

The virus was reported to have hit farms up and down the country. North Lincolnshire smallholder Michael Toyne said: “We started lambing our Suffolk x Ryelands and it has been terrible. The virus took its toll and we lost over half the lambs.
“We struggled to get the lambs out and, then when we did, we had to put them down because of their joints were fused together and some had no bottom jaw. It has been soul destroying, and we are praying the pure Ryelands will do better.”
A Derbyshire farmer, Ben Stanley, who breeds Jacob sheep, lambed 20 ewes and lost 30 per cent of his lambs.
He was reported as saying: “Everyone has always had deformed lambs but to pull them out one after another is absolutely heart-breaking.
“We have 280 left to lamb but it will be a nightmare not knowing what we are going to get. It’s very frustrating and an emotional rollercoaster, not to mention the financial implications.”
CS sheep expert Tim Tyne said: “This disease is going to affect smallholders, as it has now been found almost everywhere in England and Wales. The worst affected will be the earlier lambing flocks, as those ewes will have been exposed to midge activity after mating. Later lambing flocks will still be affected, although hopefully to a lesser degree.
“I attended the Sheep Health & Welfare Conference in November, where a Dutch government vet gave a presentation on how the disease spread there last year. It was frightening.
“This isn’t something that can be blamed on any particular farming system, or on animal movements, but it is another indication of the way climate change is going to impact on what we have to cope with on a day to day basis.”
Veteran CS writer and sheepkeeper Alan Beat, from Devon, said: "I haven't heard of any problems in my locality as yet, but a recent survey of dairy cattle across north Cornwall and west Devon found that every farm tested showed antibodies to this virus, so it's clearly widespread. My understanding is that once animals have developed natural immunity there are few problems, the deformities arise when infection first strikes during pregnancy."
But Tim Tyne added: "Unfortunately, now we're entering the second year of this disease, it appears that the immunity is not as robust as previously hoped."

0 comments

Interact with other smallholders and post your questions

Visit our forums


More from Land

Friday, September 7, 2018

Although Britain’s record-breaking heatwave has now been broken by rain storms, the impact of the prolonged tinderbox dry summer following a longer than usual winter is likely to continue throughout this year and into next, writes Kim Stoddart

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Ask the experts: during the hot weather, here’s how to preserve dwindling water supplies

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Debbie Kingsley outlines what smallholders-in-waiting need to consider when buying their first property

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Liz Shankland continues her guide to improving herd productivity, this time investigating the importance

Read more
August 2018
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The long run of sunshine and dry days of summer 2018 is impacting smallholders and their livestock and crops

Read more
August 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

Our guide to getting your lice and mite treatment up to scratch

Read more
July 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

Debbie Kingsley outlines the rules and regulations for smallholdings. This month: medicine records and fallen stock

Read more
July 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018

The countryside is not immune to crime - in fact, it’s increasing

Read more
July 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018

Jack Smellie looks at what to do when lambing and kidding doesn’t go to plan

Read more
April 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018

Smallholder Tim Tyne advises on the treatment of lambs which are hypothermic

Read more
April 2018

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Country Smallholding monthly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

This Year’s Shows

Country Smallholding cover image

Don’t miss our comprehensive guide to rural events

Find out more

Like us on Facebook


Follow us on Twitter