Joanna talks with Whitney Carmen, Grayson County Agent for Agricultural & Natural Resources to talk about ketosis in ewes.

Ketosis usually occurs in older ewes that are close to lambing. Ketosis happens close to lambing because two thirds of fetal growth occurs during last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy thus increasing ewes’ energy requirements. It is usually due to feeding too much high quality feed or not feeding them enough. In the case of this year, producers have been seeing this due to the low forage quality we have experienced broadly though the state. How Ketosis works: Reduced rumen capacity caused by a distended uterus (as in twins and triplets), increased abdominal fat in overfat ewes, insufficient energy in the diet, and a lack of exercise can predispose ewes to ketosis. Any of these may reduce blood glucose, which prevents the liver from being able to completely convert fat stores to usable energy. When this happens, ketone bodies which are normally metabolized, accumulate in the blood. These ketone bodies are toxic at high levels resulting in ketosis. (Ely, Wood, 2019). Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to ketosis. Adequate nutrition throughout their production phases is key.

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Warren County Cooperative Extension Service