How one sheep farmer eliminated watery mouth and joint ill


Matthew Isaac has decreased instances of watery mouth and joint ill at lambing to nothing by utilizing good micro organism to maintain infections at bay.  

Mr Isaac, who runs a flock of 1,550 ewes at Mynachdy farm, Pontypridd, used to have severe issues with joint ill and watery mouth in his lambs and would sometimes lose 10 or extra lambs a season.

Watery mouth is an an infection attributable to E coli, whereas joint ill causes an infection of the joints or navel.

See additionally7 key lambing illnesses: How to stop and deal with them

Ten years in the past, having exhausted different avenues, he started utilizing antibiotics – however he was conscious of antibiotic resistance and wished to maneuver away from them.

Mr Isaac, who farms together with his brother Daniel, father Richard, and nephew Jacob, began working with Aled Rhys Davies, Nuffield scholar and director of Pruex – a enterprise set as much as assist farmers cut back antibiotic use.

For the previous two years they’ve used a few merchandise based mostly across the probiotic idea of ‘good’ micro organism outcompeting ‘bad’ micro organism, with nice success.

“We have had no cases of joint ill and where we had watery mouth – which is rare – it’s been down to management,” says Mr Isaac.

  • 254ha: 133ha owned, 121ha rented
  • 15 pedigree Welsh Black suckler cows and one bull
  • 100 New Zealand Romney ewes
  • 650 Welsh Mountain Glamorgan ewes
  • 500 Texel x Welsh Mountain ewes
  • 300 Aberfield x Welsh Mountain ewes
  • Selling 1,200 lambs a yr – crossbred lambs to Waitrose, Romney and Welsh to Dunbia
  • Killing out at 19.5kg deadweight
  • 14% losses from scanning to sale within the exterior lambing flock, 6% with the within flock.


Mr Davies initially visited the farm to take some swabs from the water and lambing surroundings.

These confirmed presence of dangerous micro organism, and he beneficial utilizing Animal House Stabiliser (AHS) to maintain the bedding dry.

The industrial flock lambs indoors from 12 March and the second block (Welsh and Romney) lamb exterior from 1 April.

Mr Isaac sprays the straw bedding with a litre and a half of AHS every day, utilizing a handheld mist sprayer, which covers 1,000sq metres.

“Although this adds time, it has saved time too by not having to catch lambs and treat them – it’s a five-minute job once a day,” he says.

He additionally treats the water with Water Plus – to take away biofilm – and applies AHS to the lamb’s navel and the ewe’s nostril and udder.

In addition, the father-and-son group have carried out a five-point plan, which includes:

  • retaining water and feed buckets excessive off the bottom – this prevents assortment of droppings
  • retaining bedding dry
  • eradicating forage from water vessels
  • eradicating biofilm
  • not over-stocking.

Cost per use

Based on a crop of 1,200 reside lambs, the price equates to 75p a head, utilizing 10 20-litre containers a yr, says Mr Isaac.

They have additionally saved cash by not utilizing disinfectants to wash the shed.

“We would have spent a lot of money on disinfectants in the past – at £70-80/gallon. But between losing lambs with watery mouth and joint ill it [AHS] has paid for itself.”

The remedy and five-point plan have introduced advantages in lameness too.

“We don’t seem to get as many lame ewes; when the animals are healthy they’re happy and thriving,” he provides.

  Before Pruex After Pruex
Watery Mouth 10-15 lambs 1-2 (uncommon)
Joint Ill 10 lambs 0

How does it work?

In easy phrases, the Pruex merchandise populate the surroundings with ‘good’ micro organism to struggle the ‘bad’ micro organism – not like antibiotics, which kill all micro organism – each good and dangerous.

“A lot of the problems on farm can be solved by getting a dry bed, clean water and clean air,” says Mr Davies.

The AHS incorporates ‘good’ micro organism, which originate in soil – these have been chosen as a result of they devour natural matter aggressively. They additionally produce useful enzymes which use moisture as they multiply and take it away from the bedding. These micro organism additionally outcompete ‘bad’ micro organism akin to E coli and streptococcus.

Having a clear, dry mattress protects the ewe’s teats from choosing up dangerous micro organism and passing them to the lamb. Treating the teats and the lamb’s navel gives related safety.

How does the water remedy work?

The identical micro organism in Water Plus eat away any biofilm within the water, biofilm ought to solely be detectable below a microscope.

When a ewe drinks out of a trough with a biofilm carrying E coli, it will probably develop on the ewe’s face and then be handed on to the lamb when it’s born, resulting in watery mouth.

Running a grass-based system, the household reseed 16-24ha yearly with high-sugar grass leys, containing chicory and plantain, on which to complete the lambs.

They purchase in 80t of fodder beet to feed the Romney and Mountain ewes from January to March, then put high-energy blocks out three weeks earlier than they lamb.

When the lambs are three weeks previous, they’re mob grazed with their moms in paddocks of between 3ha and 6ha, and are weaned at 12 to 14 weeks.

Mr Isaac buys rams from breeding firm Innovis and makes use of an Abermax as a terminal sire on the crossbreds, an Aberfield on the yearlings and a Texel on the older ewes.

He goals to maneuver away from the Texel subsequent yr and put all of the breeding ewes for replacements to Aberfield for ease of lambing.

The household preserve the Texel x Welsh and Aberfield x Welsh ewe lambs as replacements, then purchase in Welsh ewe lambs to prime up and keep away from breeding undesirable ram lambs.