Coccidiosis can become a problem of intensively-reared lambs occurring primarily indoors where stocking densities are high but may also occur in lambs at pasture where there is heavy contamination around feed troughs. Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoa which attacks the lining of the intestinal tract. Loss of gut absorptive capacity often results in profuse diarrhoea. Although lambs don’t often die the disease spreads rapidly between lambs and growth is severely affected. Lambs at between four and six weeks of age are most commonly affected.

The common signs are a rapid weight loss and foul smelling diarrhoea containing mucous and flecks of blood. Straining is accompanied by painful vocalisations. Often the disease is seen after a stressful event such as adverse weather, weaning or change in the diet. Care must be taken not to confuse the symptoms with Nematodirus as treatment is totally different.

If possible, lambs should be moved from infected pastures or building as soon as the disease becomes apparent. Troughs should be moved regularly to prevent the disease. Deccox can be incorporated into lamb creep for the treatment and prevention of coccidiosis. Where farms have a diagnosed problem, deccox can be used to medicate the ewe ration to suppress coccidiosis egg production, this can work in conjunction with medicated lamb creep feed. The other option for treatment and prevention is Vecoxan. Vecoxan works for 2-3 weeks after administration and so timing of treatment is critical.

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