A survey of New South Wales sheep producer practices and perceptions on lamb mortality and ewe supplementation

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High lamb mortality rates reduce profitability and reduce the perceived animal welfare standards of the industry. This study aimed to understand producer knowledge of lamb mortality rates and causes of lamb mortality, and to investigate various practices and perceptions of producers that may contribute to lamb deaths. Postal and online surveys gathered data on Australian sheep producer's knowledge and practices around lambing and management practices. Based on results, approximately 50% of producers estimated less than 10% mortality of lambs between birth and marking, compared to published data estimates of 20-25% mortality. Pre-lambing vaccination of ewes was not undertaken by 10-20% of producers. Ninety-six percent of producers vaccinated lambs; however, 17% of Merino and 23% of crossbred lamb producers only gave a single vaccination instead of the recommended initial vaccine and booster. The lower estimated mortality impacts producer's perceived benefits of management strategies being undertaken. Research undertaken needs to be more effectively distributed to producers via extension services to ensure producers understand the causes of mortality. Important messages to convey to producers include the limited impact of predation in most cases and the total costs of lamb mortality on-farm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1586
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 05 Sept 2020


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