As lambing gets underway, antibiotic reduction and particularly the recent withdrawal from the market of Spectam® is once again a hot topic across the farming industry. Overall antibiotic use is relatively low within the sheep sector but there is a very high usage around lambing time, particularly in preventative ways (prophylactic) around neonatal lambs.
Many farms historically have been using oral Spectam® (spectinomycin) for the prevention of watery mouth in every lamb born. The blanket treatment of lambs with antibiotics speeds up the rate of resistance, bringing us closer to E.Coli that we are unable to treat with any antibiotics.
Five years ago SRUC Veterinary Services reviewed the antibiotic sensitivity results for 295 isolates of E. coli from lambs less than 4 weeks of age.
- 52.5% of isolates were resistant to oxytetracycline
- 41.2% were resistant to ampicillin
- 29.8% were resistant to spectinomycin.
- 25% of isolates were resistant to four or more antibiotics.
If we can try and be more selective with our antibiotic use, we are not only saving money but reducing resistance to the antibiotics that we use.
Below we outline some tips to minimise E. coli infections and watery mouth in the upcoming lambing season: