Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

Study highlights survival costs of ewe reproduction
The study found that females with offspring had bigger gut worm infections than females which didn’t reproduce.

Researchers assess a wild population of Soay sheep

A new study published by scientists at the Moredun Research Institute and the Universities of Stirling, Lancaster and Edinburgh has revealed how reproduction can affect a ewe’s survival.

In the study, researchers examined a wild population of Soay sheep living off the west coast of Scotland. They found that females with offspring had bigger gut worm infections than females which didn’t reproduce.

Furthermore, the ewes that successfully suckled their lamb through to weaning had higher parasite counts than those whose lamb died soon after birth. The study is published in the journal Ecology Letters.

Study leader Jessica Leivesley commented: “The resources which a female must channel into producing her lamb means that less energy remains to fight infections. Our results also suggest that lactation is particularly costly, because females that weaned their lamb had even more parasites than those whose lambs died and therefore didn’t need to lactate.”

The study also found that ewes with bigger worm infections in spring had lower body weight in summer and were less likely to survive over the following winter to breed again in the future.

Senior author Dr Adam Haywood said: “We’ve known for a long time that reproduction can affect survival. What our new study does is to provide an explanation for why this might be the case: we’ve discovered a complex but clear pathway linking reproduction to increased infections and reduced survival.

“While all organisms strive to reproduce, it has its costs, and as the father of an eight-month-old this research has recently taken on a new relevance to me!”

Image (C) Tomek Augustyn.

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Hedgehog project launched at Edinburgh campus

News Story 1
 The University of Edinburgh has launched a hedgehog-friendly project at its Easter Bush Campus, which is home to the Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

A survey is being carried out at the campus to assess how many hedgehogs are in the area. A team of around 20 volunteers installed 10 small tunnels in different locations and they will track footprints to gauge hedgehog presence.

Landscape experts are also creating habitats where the mammals can eat, shelter and breed. It is hoped that student projects will be developed at an open day on 12 October. 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Irelandís airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Irelandís animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.