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Title: Risk factors for Merino ewe mortality on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia
Contributor(s): Kelly, Gareth A (author); Kahn, Lewis  (author)orcid ; Walkden-Brown, Steve W  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2014
DOI: 10.1111/avj.12145
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Abstract: Objective: To measure the association of worm egg count (WEC), body weight (BW) and fat score (FS) with mortality in Merino ewes. Methods: On six farms, Merino ewes (n = 1440) were yarded at approximately 3-month intervals for 2 years for a range of experimental measurements. Mortality was defined by failure to present at two consecutive measurement days and at next shearing. Survival analysis was conducted with phenotypic traits measured both as continuous variables and categorised appropriately for industry guidelines. Results: Overall mortality was 10%, with most deaths occurring in autumn followed by winter. Age class (2006 drop vs mature-age ewes) did not affect mortality. High WEC, low BW and low FS significantly increased the risk of mortality. WEC > 1200 epg significantly increased risk of mortality in summer (risk ratio 3.76) and autumn (risk ratio 3.61) compared with the reference group. Risk of mortality increased 1.1-fold for each kilogram unit decrease in BW and 7-fold for each unit decrease in FS. Conclusions: Mortality of Merino ewes can be significantly reduced by management methods that reduce WEC, maintain BW and increase the FS. For Merino ewes on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, improved animal welfare and economic benefits may be achieved by maintaining sheep with WEC < 1200 epg, BW > 35kg and FS > 2.5.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Veterinary Journal, 92(3), p. 58-61
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1751-0813
Field of Research (FOR): 070204 Animal Nutrition
070201 Animal Breeding
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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