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Farm Animal Practice
Cost‐effective biochemistry and haematology in sheep
  1. Elspeth Milne

    Elspeth Milne is head of pathology at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, and a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Clinical Pathology and the Royal College of Pathologists. She has a small flock of crossbred Texel sheep

  2. Phil Scott

    Phil Scott has been involved in farm animal practice for the past 28 years. He is an RCVS Specialist in Sheep Health and Production. His opinions on ovine matters, particularly welfare topics, are best summarised in Sheep Medicine, published this autumn by Manson.


WITH the exception of trace element analyses, routine haematology and clinical biochemistry are less frequently performed in farm animal practice than small animal practice. Although this is mainly due to financial constraints, there is also a relative lack of information on interpretation of results and appropriate reference intervals under differing management systems. Thus, biochemical and haematological investigations tend to be limited to selected tests for flock problems and specific disease presentations in more valuable individuals. This article discusses the use and limitations of laboratory testing as a diagnostic aid in sheep practice, excluding trace element analysis, which is the subject of a previous article (Suttle 2005). Throughout, the focus is on careful and cost‐effective test selection, and appropriate interpretation of results.

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