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Twin lamb disease

 As many of you are coming up to lambing or have actually started lambing, it is important to be aware of the potential metabolic problems faced by your ewes. Twin lamb disease or pregnancy toxaemia is a disease of ewes in late gestation when their energy requirements exceed their energy intake. 75% of foetal growth occurs in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy and the ewe will divert the glucose she has produced to the lambs in detriment to herself. This is particularly significant when the ewe is carrying more than one lamb.

Clinical Signs of Twin Lamb:

• Won’t come to the trough to feed

• Isolated

• Dull and depressed

• Blind and star gazing

• Head pressing and tremors

• Weakness and recumbency

• Death

For any treatment given to be successful, it needs to be given early. Easily usable sugars should be given orally, such as propylene glycol (Ketol®), or intravenously (glucose). Colvasone® can be given to stimulate the liver and increase the ewe’s glucose production. If the ewe is able to eat, she should be given free access to palatable feeds and water. It severe cases it may be necessary to abort the ewe or perform a caesarean. To prevent twin lamb, any stressful events for the ewe should be avoided late in pregnancy, e.g. worming, vaccinating etc. Ultrasound scanning the ewes and feeding according to their requirements is also important to ensure ewes are fed correctly. If you are having a problem, blood samples can be used to determine the adequacy of your pregnant ewe diet.