The most common small ruminant diseases of national importance include internal parasites, viral and bacterial infections, metabolic disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. Internal parasites are often the biggest concern for small ruminant producers. Small ruminants can become infected with a variety of parasites that live in their digestive tract, such as gastrointestinal roundworms, tapeworms, coccidia, and liver flukes. These parasites cause significant damage to the digestive system by stealing nutrients from the host animal and creating lesions in the lining of their intestines. As such, animals suffering from heavy parasite burdens often experience severe anemia, bloating, diarrhea, poor growth rates and even death.
Viral and bacterial infections are also among the more common diseases affecting small ruminants. Viral infections like foot-and-mouth disease have been known to decimate entire herds in a single outbreak while various forms of mastitis caused by bacteria like staphylococci can lead to milk production losses on an individual animal level.
Metabolic disorders such as ketosis or milk fever can occur when animals experience extreme fluctuations in their diet or when they are heavily lactating for extended periods of time. Nutritional deficiencies are yet another disease commonly affecting small ruminants due to their reliance on complex diets composed of multiple plant species which may potentially be deficient in key vitamins or minerals. Malnutrition is particularly common during drought seasons or when there is a lack of access to nutritious forage materials needed for proper maintenance of the animals’ health status.
Small ruminant producers must remain vigilant against these various diseases; failure to do so can result in substantial economic losses due to decreased production efficiency as well as direct losses from death or culling due to illness. Fortunately, many of these problems can be avoided through early detection and effective management strategies such as regular deworming programs or vaccination campaigns against viruses and other contagious pathogens. Proper nutrition must also be taken seriously as it serves as the foundation upon which all other management strategies build upon; on a similar note, careful selection for disease resistance is also important for minimizing losses associated with these small ruminant diseases over long periods of time.