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Impact of Schmallenberg virus on British sheep farms during the 2011/2012 lambing season.


ABSTRACT: British sheep farmers were invited to complete a questionnaire about the impact of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) on animal health, welfare and their own emotional wellbeing during the 2011-2012 lambing season, through Defra and Farming Industry websites, letters to farmers who had requested SBV laboratory tests and advertisement at Sheep 2012. The 494 responders included SBV confirmed (positive by RT-PCR) (n=76), SBV suspected by farmer (n=140) or SBV not suspected (n=278). Percentage of barren ewes was similar across SBV groups, however, lamb and ewe losses were higher on responder farms where SBV was confirmed or suspected. The median percentages of all lambs born (and lambs born deformed?) that died within one week of birth was 10.4 per cent (5.5 per cent), 7.0 per cent (2.9 per cent) and 5.3 per cent (0 per cent), respectively, on SBV confirmed, suspected and not suspected farms (P<0.001). Eight to 16 per cent of SBV confirmed or suspected farms reported lamb mortality of ?40 per cent. Farmer perceived impact was greater where SBV was confirmed or suspected (P<0.001): 25 per cent reported a high impact on emotional wellbeing (4 per cent of SBV not suspected), 13 per cent reported a high impact on flock welfare and financial performance and 6 per cent were less likely to farm sheep next year because of SBV (<2 per cent in SBV not suspected). Overall, SBV impact has been large relative to reported sheep loss.

SUBMITTER: Harris KA 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4145415 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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