Farm Management

Don’t bring ovine brucellosis home with new rams

Visual checks are not enough to avoid ovine brucellosis in purchased rams. Buying rams from Ovine Brucellosis Accreditation Scheme members will minimise the risks

The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is reminding sheep producers to check for the reproductive disease ovine brucellosis before buying rams.

WA Department field veterinary officer Kristine Rayner said bringing in rams infected with ovine brucellosis would result in reduced productivity and profitability.

“Ovine brucellosis reduces ram fertility, leading to poor lambing percentages and is expensive to eradicate once established,” Dr Rayner said.

“But there are steps that producers can take to avoid buying rams with ovine brucellosis.

“Visual and physical checks of ram testes for odd swellings are important, but are not enough. Rams with ovine brucellosis may have normal looking testes and do not appear sick.

“We encourage ram buyers to request negative blood test results for ovine brucellosis before buying, or to consider buying rams from flocks accredited under the WA Ovine Brucellosis Accreditation Scheme (OBAS).

“Producers should also ask for a National Sheep Health Declaration.”

Dr Rayner said producers in the accreditation scheme were able to provide a high level of assurance of freedom from ovine brucellosis for their flock.

They must have regular negative test results and demonstrate good biosecurity practices to be accredited.

She said the best time to check rams for ovine brucellosis was before they arrived on the farm.

“If testing is not done before the rams arrive, they should be isolated and have two blood tests 60 days apart with negative results before mixing with other stock,” Dr Rayner said.

Dr Rayner also noted that ewes were a potential source of infection.

“Ewes that have recently mated with infected rams also risk infecting clean rams if they are exposed in the same oestrus cycle,” she said.

“Ewes introduced onto a farm should not be joined for a minimum of four months to ensure they clear any potential infection with ovine brucellosis.”

Source: WA DPIRD

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