Facial Eczemasheep

Facial Eczema is caused by fungal spores that occur on pasture during warm moist conditions, usually late summer to autumn. When ingested these spores release a toxin which damages the liver and causes secondary skin damage. There are many symptoms to facial eczema including:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Irrational to the skin which could lead to raw wounds

Facial eczema is becoming less of a concern in sheep with the widespread use of FE tolerant Coopworth and Romney rams but terminal sires without this genetic selection may deteriorate with severe liver damage. Consider using a zinc bullet when putting the ram out with the ewes.

Grass Staggers

Grass Staggers occurs when the intake of magnesium is exceeded by its output. It is common in spring due to an increased requirement of magnesium for lactation and the decreased magnesium content of lush green pasture. Grass taggers is not just restricted to the first few days of lactation. As with all metabolic conditions it is important to act fast. Contact Franklin Vets immediately if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Hyper-excitability and restlessness
  • Unsteadiness and lack of coordination
  • Over-alert appearance

Grass stagger can occur in cattle, and ewes in late pregnancy due to poor nutrition.


Many NZ pet sheep are overweight and this can make them prone to a lot of health issues. Follow this link for a comprehensive guide on what you can do to safely reduce the weight of your sheep.

Pregnancy Toxaemia

Pregnancy toxaemia (also known as twin-lamb disease, sleepy sickness, lambing sickness and pregnancy disease) is a disease mainly seen in twin bearing ewes in late pregnancy. The condition arises when pregnant ewes do not receive enough nutrition in the latter stages of gestation. If the signs are not picked up early and treatment is delayed, the chances of a successful outcome will rapidly decrease

If you notice any of the early signs of pregnancy toxaemia you can begin a daily treatment with oral energy drenches such as Ketol. Contact Franklin Vets if you notice any of the following:

  • Separation
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wool pull-where the wool is easily plucked

Without treatment, they will progressively worsen with apparent blindness, aimless wandering, staggering, frothing at the mouth and champing of the jaws. If left untreated the animals will eventually become comatose before dying.

Flystrike Prevention

Fly is a disease caused by blowflies laying eggs on the skin which hatch as maggots and eat into the skin causing sores. There are several species of blowfly throughout New Zealand, the most aggressive being the Australian green blowfly. We recommend Extinosad for the effective killing of maggots and lice.

Treatment with oral energy drenches are only effective for mild cases if caught in the early stages. Franklin Vets will provide you with the best chance for a successful outcome. We can give IV dextrose solution, steroids and fluid therapy for more serious cases.

Barbers Pole (Haemonchus contortus)

Is a potentially harmful roundworm , blood sucking parasite that thrives in moist humid conditions. Anemia is the basic feature of infection due to blood loss. Deaths can occur suddenly while the sheep still appear to be in good health. Franklin Vets recommend incorporating long-acting drenches that prevent the buildup of the parasite. Two actives that work well are Closantel and Moxidectin.

Lamb Scours

Lamb scours can be divided into two groups: nutritional and infectious. Nutritional scours is often caused by poor quality milk or sudden changes to milk formulas. Milk that is too hot or too cold can also lead to diarrhea or bloat. Nutritional scourers is identified by white or yellow sticky runny faeces.

Infectious scours are more common in young lambs. Faeces can be watery and brown or yellow. Lambs will become very dehydrated which can lead to sunken eyes. Severely affected animals are weak and lethargic.

Scouring animals can die from dehydration so it is important to act fast. Keep sick animals isolated, dry and warm. Administer quality electrolyte feeds such as Diarrest or Revive.

Colostrum is the biggest preventative measure. Lambs should ideally receive colostrum from their mother. Alternatively, freeze-dried colostrum powder can be used.