Mastitis is an inflammation of the ewe’s udder and is usually caused by bacterial infection. It is a significant ewe health and welfare problem for both dairy and meat sheep farmers worldwide. Mastitis can also result in significant economic losses.
For the ewe, the inflammation and swelling of the udder is acutely painful and the toxins produced by the bacteria can make her feel ill, inappetant and even kill her. As the damage caused to the udder is often permanent and results in decreased milk production, mastitis is also associated with premature ewe culling. Mastitis impacts on lamb welfare as the reduction in milk production, milk fat and milk protein lead to reduced lamb growth and higher risk of lamb mortality.
In UK lowland flocks, acute mastitis affects between 4-5% of ewes each year and in hill flocks, it affects 1-2% of ewes. Chronic mastitis is estimated to affect between 1-15% of ewes.
Moredun have a research interest in novel vaccine candidates and approaches for protection of sheep against mastitis.