Mastitis in Dairy Ewes - Investigation
August 2023

Mastitis in dairy ewes: preliminary findings of a large study

Sheep milking is gaining momentum in New Zealand, catalysed by the drier at Innovation Park and the formation of Spring Sheep and Maui Milk. EpiVets is addressing the almost complete lack of systematically collected mastitis information by running multiple sub-studies on 20 dairy sheep farms from North Waikato to Canterbury. We will define the status quo so we can understand mastitis, clarify what “normal” is, set targets, agree on priorities, and develop tools and interventions for farmers.

Dairy sheep don’t get clinical mastitis as much as their bovine cousins, with a mean incidence of 2.5% and a farm-level incidence ranging from 0 to 6% (see graph – asterisks indicate farms that don’t start milking until weaning). Yes – some farms do not get clinical mastitis! However, it is also clear that clinical mastitis is often more subtle in sheep than cows, so there is probably some under diagnosis happening. Furthermore, several farmers do not start milking their ewes until weaning, so they miss the bulk of the clinical mastitis season.

Stand by for much more information!