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Farm Animal Practice
Dealing with dystocia in the ewe
  1. Agnes Winter

    Agnes Winter is a lecturer in sheep medicine and head of the Division of Farm Animal Studies at Liverpool. She is a past-president of the Sheep Veterinary Society and a member of the Farm Animal Welfare Council. She holds the RCVS diploma in sheep health and production. In 1995, she received the George Hedley Award for outstanding services to the sheep industry.


THE lambing ewe in difficulty represents the most common ovine patient, although the numbers seen by practices may range from one or two animals from the local city farm to the queues of patients commonly presented to farm practices in areas with high sheep populations. Shepherds' skills vary markedly. Many are very experienced (often more so than the veterinarian who sees only a few lambings each year) and their cases will tend to be those requiring a caesarean section. Others are totally inexperienced and may call for help with the simplest lambing. In some instances attempts by one or more people will have gone on for far too long, risking the lives of the ewe and lamb(s). Whatever the circumstances, management of dystocia in the ewe depends vitally on making a quick and accurate assessment of the case.

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