Twin Lamb Disease


  • Common disease of ewes in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy and immediately after lambing.
  • During late pregnancy, the ewe has a very high energy requirement to provide for her own needs and the growth of the lamb or lambs she is carrying.
  • If the energy requirement is not met by feed intake, the ewe will break down her own body tissues.
  • If the rate at which the ewe breaks down her tissues is too rapid, toxic wastes from the breakdown process accumulate and pregnancy toxaemia occurs.


  • The initial signs are dullness and loss of appetite and affected sheep lagging behind the mob when driven. Later the ewe will stand alone, appear dopey and will not move when approached.
  • If driven the ewe will appear blind, stumble and go down.
  • The ewe will eventually sink into a coma and die within 5-7 days.


  • Based on flock history, signs shown by affected sheep and post mortem findings.On post mortem, the liver is generally tan to yellow in colour and is quite soft and there is often plenty of fat on the carcase.


  • Treatment is usually unrewarding as most sheep die despite treatment.
  •  If treatment is to be given, the strategy is to give the ewe a readily absorbed source of energy.
  • Treatment must be given as soon as possible after initial signs to be of any benefit.
  • Oral and injectable glucose solutions are readily available from most rural stores.


  • Give pregnant ewes the best paddock feed available during the month prior to lambing.
  • If necessary provide supplementary feed during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
  • In flocks where multiple births are expected, ewes should be at least a condition score 3, however they should be no more than condition score 4. Consider scanning and segregating twins, singles and empties for better feeding outcomes.
  • Keep physical stress on pregnant ewes to a minimum by avoiding unnecessary mustering or yarding or time off feed.

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