CalciEwe+ from Nettex is now available to rapidly deliver bioavailable calcium to ewes requiring calcium at lambing time.
The nutritional imbalance caused by the unavailability of metabolisable calcium is most often seen in the final weeks of pregnancy as ewes are put under significant nutritional stress due to accelerated foetal growth.
“Calcium deficiency in ewes most commonly occurs when the sudden increase in demand of calcium for colostrum production and lamb growth exceeds the ability of the body to quickly mobilise calcium from the bone,” says Emily Hall, livestock farmer and product manager for Nettex. “The condition is most frequently seen in the last four weeks of pregnancy although can be seen during other times in the production cycle when animals are under significant stress.”
According to Ms Hall, clinical signs of calcium deficiency include coma, paralysis, rapid breathing, tremors, uncoordinated movements and can result in death.
While older, multiple-bearing ewes are highest at risk, other factors such as nutrient deficiencies, sudden diet changes close to lambing and excessive stress caused by overhandling and dog worrying can trigger calcium deficiency in healthy ewes. Feeding high levels of calcium in a pre-lambing diet can also increase risk as it interferes with the ewe’s ability to mobilise calcium from bone.
“If a calcium deficiency is identified or suspected, and prompt supplementation with a bioavailable calcium source is required, ewes should recover within an hour of calcium supplementation,” says Ms Hall.
CalciEwe+ is a calcium drench with added energy, magnesium and niacin to support recovery after pre-lambing exhaustion. Available in a 500ml bottle with an applicator tube, 100ml should be administered orally at the first signs of calcium deficiency.
“The high level of bioavailable calcium in CalciEwe+ will help support ewes suffering from calcium deficiency. In a case where a ewe still appears to be lethargic after eight hours, an additional 100ml should be administered,” says Ms Hall.
Taking a belts and braces approach to hypocalcaemia and twin lamb disease
Calcium deficiency is tricky to identify due to the clinical signs and causes being similar to twin lamb disease.
“Calcium deficiency and twin lamb disease also occur at similar times, making the two difficult to distinguish between,” says Ms Hall. “A blood test would be able to confirm a diagnosis. However, blood tests do take time and for any treatment to be effective it must be given at the first signs of disease.”
Because waiting for blood sample diagnostics would make intervention too late, Ms Hall advises farmers to take a belt and braces approach and treat ewes for both calcium deficiency and twin lamb disease. Alongside the administration of CalciEwe+, producers should also feed a high-energy supplement like Multi Lamb Rapid. Formulated with multiple energy sources, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, a 45ml feed of Multi Lamb Rapid will give ewes a fast energy boost to aid recovery from exhaustion.
“Because there are so many uncontrollable variables that can trigger calcium deficiency and twin lamb disease in ewes, it’s worth producers having product on hand to administer as soon as they see a ewe demonstrating clinical signs of either problem,” concludes Ms Hall. “These fast-acting solutions will offset ewe exhaustion and have them in recovery quickly.”