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Sheep and goats
Rickets in Scottish blackface lambs on five South West Scotland farms
  1. Emma Hurst1,
  2. Katrina Henderson2,
  3. Heather Stevenson2,
  4. Tobias Schwarz1,
  5. Sandra Scholes3,
  6. Helen Carty3,
  7. Colin Mason2 and
  8. Richard J Mellanby1
  1. 1The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute, The Hospital for Small Animals, University of Edinburgh, Midlothian, UK
  2. 2SRUC Veterinary Services, Dumfries, UK
  3. 3SRUC Veterinary Services, Ayr, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Richard J Mellanby; richard.mellanby{at}


Vitamin D plays a critical role in the regulation of calcium and phosphate homeostasis and in the development and maintenance of skeletal health. Sheep can obtain vitamin D via either cutaneous production following exposure to UV radiation or consumption of vitamin D containing foodstuffs. In northern Europe, sheep are often unable to cutaneously generate vitamin D in late winter due to the lack of UV radiation. Consequently, they are heavily reliant on dietary sources of vitamin D, which, if insufficient, can lead to rickets in growing lambs. Here, we report the diagnosis of rickets in Scottish blackface lambs on five farms in South West Scotland. Cases were diagnosed based on classical skeletal clinical signs alongside extremely low concentrations of 25 hydroxyvitamin D, the major circulating metabolite of vitamin D, which is widely used to assess vitamin D status. This report demonstrates that rickets can be a major health problem in hill sheep.

  • vitamin D
  • rickets
  • sheep
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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are icluded in the article.

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