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ABSTRACT:

Over an Easter weekend on duty three recumbent ewes in late pregnancy were presented which had been misdiagnosed by farmers as listeriosis, pregnancy toxaemia and acute respiratory disease, respectively. All three ewes responded within five minutes to veterinary treatment of 40 mL of 40% of calcium borogluconate administered intravenously; relapse did not occur despite the lack of subcutaneous depot calcium injection. It is often assumed that hypocalcaemia should be readily recognised by shepherds but a UK survey revealed that 61.4 per cent of suspected hypocalcaemic ewes treated by farmers died, which raises serious doubts concerning diagnosis and/or treatment. An internet search also revealed some surprisingly confusing articles (Nosdol & Waage, 1981; Bickhardt et al., 1998) regarding the diagnosis and treatment of ovine hypocalcaemia. These data, and the increasing trend to sourcing information and advice via the internet, highlights the importance of veterinary practitioner diagnosis, treatment and advice for hypocalcaemia in sheep.