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Open Access Research

Occurrence of congenital disorders in Swiss sheep

Deborah Greber13, Marcus Doherr2, Cord Drögemüller3* and Adrian Steiner1

Author Affiliations

1 Clinic for Ruminants, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bremgartenstrasse 109a, Bern, 3001, Switzerland

2 Veterinary Public Health Institute, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Schwarzenburgstrasse 155, Liebefeld, 3097, Switzerland

3 Institute of Genetics, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bremgartenstrasse 109a, Bern, 3001, Switzerland

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2013, 55:27  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-55-27

Published: 22 March 2013

Abstract

Background

The rates of congenital disorders in Swiss sheep were determined by a questionnaire which was sent to 3,183 members of the Swiss Sheep Breeders’ Association.

Findings

A total of 993 questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 31.2%. Of these, 862 questionnaires originated from farms keeping one of the predominant Swiss sheep breeds: Swiss White Alpine sheep, Brown-Headed Meat sheep, Swiss Black Brown Mountain sheep and Valais Blacknose sheep. During a 10-year-period, entropion was reported in 33.6% of the farms, brachygnathia inferior in 29.5%, abdominal/umbilical hernia in 15.9%, cryptorchidism in 10.5% and torticollis in 10.5%. The most significant difference between the four breeds (P < 0.001) occurred for entropion in Swiss White Alpine sheep and Brown-Headed Meat sheep, brachygnathia inferior in Swiss Black Brown Mountain sheep, and scrotal/inguinal hernia in Valais Blacknose sheep. The Swiss White Alpine breed showed a significantly higher animal prevalence of entropion (6.2% in 2011 and 5.5% in 2012) than other breeds (P < 0.001).

Conclusions

These findings indicate a breed-specific necessity for action, particularly regarding Swiss animal welfare legislation, especially entropion in Swiss White Alpine sheep is concerned. In general, careful selection of breeding stock is to be recommended.

Keywords:
Genetic disorders; Congenital disease; Sheep; Entropion; Brachygnathia inferior; Hernia; Cryptorchidism; torticollis