WITH lambing fast approaching and many early flocks getting underway, the 40% energy increase required by multiple bearing ewes brings with it an increased risk of Twin Lamb Disease (TLD) or pregnancy toxaemia. 

  • Greater grass growth than normal in many areas means some ewes may be in better condition than expected. This creates scenario one for increased TLD risk: 
  • Fat ewes, (BCS >4), with a depressed appetite and fatty livers that cannot cope with the mobilisation of body reserves. 
  • Late pregnancy is not the time to reduce BCS in over conditioned females, so beware of the TLD risk.
  • Thin ewes in late pregnancy creates scenario two for increased risk of developing TLD. As it takes six weeks to raise B Condition by one score, this problem should be addressed at mating and mid pregnancy:
  • This deficiency in nutrition is not purely down to nutrient supply. 
  • Nutrient intake is critical

TLD is prevented by good feeding management, adequate feeder space (not just adequate feed) and feeding ewes at the same time every day. Ewes are programmed when receiving feed, therefore look for feeding within 15 minutes of the same time every day. They will produce excess saliva at this time which will buffer acid produced in the digestion of the feed. This is one of the most important management considerations in any ruminant:

  • Energyze buckets offer a little and often approach as an alternative or in addition to the supplementary approach. 
  • Whatever the situation ensure adequate access to minerals (aim for one bucket per 30 ewes) 
  • Forage analysis and ration formulation can improve accuracy of feeding. 
  • Bear in mind that sudden stresses such as adverse weather, irregular feeding and handling can trigger twin lamb disease.

Also be clear on the symptoms of TLD compared to other disease:

  • Early signs – decreased activity at feeding and spend more time lying. 
  • Progressing to –listlessness, aimless walking, muscle twitching and grinding of the teeth. 
  • Later stages – blindness, lack of glucose and an overwhelmed liver the cause of clinical signs. 
  • Severe cases – instability and once down; coma and death. 

Prevention is always better than cure and Harbro offer a comprehensive nutritional package for the whole flock, with the aim of maximising health, fertility and growth, whilst ensuring effective feed conversion and results. 
If faced with high risk ewes, very fat or very thin, prepare for late preventative measures and cures. 
Treatments for suspect ewes in the early stages of TLD: 

  • Orally administered products containing propylene glycol such as Country Twin Lamb
  • Oral electrolyte solutions containing glucose such as Life-Aid 
  • Calcium solutions such as Calciject

Ensuring adequate intake at regular times is paramount, Energyze Vitality is the first choice feed bucket for late pregnancy ewes. Depending on ewe condition, forage quality/availability at lambing time can be used solely with forage, or as part of a two pronged approach where ewes are also supplemented.
To reduce the risk of TLD the following features of Energyze Vitality are relevant: 

  • Propylene glycol is an instant energy source and proven aid to TLD reduction
  • No added vegetable fat to reduce added pressure on the liver
  • Choline which cleans the liver but also supplies methyl groups which attach DNA and alter the pattern genes. This results in permanent change in the foetus, aiding embryo development and lamb growth.