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Watery mouth in lambs

Watery mouth in lambs can be a big problem in some flocks. It is a clinical endotoxemia in very young lambs in the first days of life. This basically means an E.coli infection which can cause severe shock from the bacteria multiplying rapidly in the young lambs gut.

Young lambs are prone to this infection because the stomach ph. is neutral to help colostrum absorption. This also means that E.coli bacteria, if they are ingested, can proliferate easier unless colostrum is absorbed

The symptoms of watery mouth are wet muzzles, distended bellies, lethargy, and collapse. The meconium plug in the anus may also not be passed. Water mouth will usually be seen in lambs from 1-3 days old.


These lambs depending on the stage of the disease are showing symptoms of endotoxic shock. I always found fluids warmed (cool boiled water) with dextrose worked well. They need to be given early. Your vet can recommend antibiotic treatments.

Warmed enemas can also be used to help pass the meconium and gets the young lambs guts moving.

Keep these lambs warm and regularly hydrated. the earlier the intervention the better.

Lambs can be given 50/60ml/kg of the warmed electrolyte solution every 6-8 hours.









Nettex lamb kickstart


It’s all about colostrum

If we can manage colostrum in our flocks well it will have a huge influence on reducing the risk of watery mouth disease

Colostrum must be fed at 50-60 ml/kg to the newborn lamb. It plays a vital role in so many functions like

  • Immunity to fight infections, lambs are born without immunity and without this struggle with many newborn diseases
  • Lubricating the young gut
  • Vital energy and protein to get the lamb going
  • Fill the young lamb up, so they aren’t suckling nuzzling dirty udders and fleeces
  • Has loads of agents that help develop the young gut of the lamb and get the gut functioning (lactocrine hypothesis)

I can’t really state it enough times, good colostrum management is the key in the fight against watery mouth


Watery mouth control

  1. Get ewe feeding right to ensure good quality colostrum production. Ensure enough energy in the Prelambing diet and good quality protein (>14% CP). colostrum is made or brewed in the udder in the last 14-7 days before lambing. Getting nutrition right in this period can make a huge difference.
  2. Close attention for at-risk triplets and smaller weaker lambs. Farmers, should have some colostrum stored if at all possible to supplement these where necessary? Colostrum replacers can be used only where no maternal colostrum is available or to top up weak lambs and triplets.
  3. Hygiene is so important in reducing exposure to disease. Clean udders in ewes Prelambing with a focus on good drainage, plenty of straw and lots of fresh air in sheds. Keep them udders dry and clean. Watch the VIDEO above for further tips on hygiene
  4. Oral antibiotics to all lambs have been used in the past, we must move away from this practice. The risk of antibiotic resistance is too big.



Thought of the day

We are being told to self-isolate to avoid the spread of disease. I think self-distancing is a better word. No one should feel alone during these tough times

In extraordinary times we all should be willing to do anything we can to step apart but move together.

If people feel I can help them my email is info@tommythevet.ie

Big thanks to Nettex for their support in helping me make #50in50 happen http://www.net-tex.co.uk

Keep the topic suggestions coming in

Happy safe farming





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