Pneumonia may be a major health problem among all ages and categories of sheep. It can be caused by a range of organisms and foreign bodies affecting the lungs. The combination of viral and bacterial microorganisms with an elevation in stress is the primary reason for acute pneumonia. Moisture and temperature extremes are major factors contributing to stress. In New Mexico, moisture typically is not a typical stress factor, however the extreme temperature changes throughout the fall are.
Acute pneumonia will affect lambs from birth to yearling age. They are most likely infected early in life by the causative microorganisms, but they will resist the infection until some stress occurs, like extreme changes in temperature, exposure to dust, shipping, or extended periods while not feed. Afflicted lambs generally weaken, refuse feed, seem gaunt, and breathe rapidly. Depending on the time it occurs, the condition usually is called shipping pneumonia or acute summer pneumonia. Proper management from lambing throughout the lifetime of the lamb is important to minimize the incidence of pneumonia.
When shed lambing, keep the premises clean, dry, and as draft-free as doable. The lambing shed ought to be well ventilated and moisture should be kept to a minimum. Avoid over-confinement. Shear ewes before lambing to scale back infection from wool tags around the udder.
Proper nutrition of the ewes is very important. Vitamin C deficiency has been associated with the incidence of pneumonia. Treatment ought to accommodates using broad-spectrum antibiotics as directed on the label. Reducing stress and administering high levels of antibiotics during inclined periods could be of some value in reducing the incidence of pneumonia.