Mild congenital goitre increases lamb mortality in southern New South Wales

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Congenital goitre, symptomatic of iodine deficiency, can be associated with elevated levels of lamb mortality. This study details an outbreak east of Wagga Wagga in southern NSW where goitre has previously not been documented. Measurements were taken on flocks at 2 sites near Ladysmith. Up to 82% of dead lambs had thyroid/weight ratios of more than 0.4 g/kg bodyweight, potentially large enough to affect survival. Up to 16% of lambs surviving to marking had enlarged thyroids (i.e. estimated by palpation). Lambs with enlarged thyroids may be more prone to dystocia with ewes requiring assistance at delivery. Sex and birthweight were not related to thyroid size, but of lambs surviving to marking a greater proportion of Merino than crossbred lambs had enlarged thyroids. At the second site growth rate from birth to marking but not to weaning was reduced in lambs with higher thyroid scores. The high incidence of goitre in these flocks suggest that iodine deficiency may be an important factor in lamb mortality in some years in this region but is unlikely to be detected due to the relatively small degree of thyroid enlargement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)995-998
Number of pages4
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number6 / 7
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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