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Vaccinating your lambs

Routine vaccination programs for lambs and adult sheep can prevent significant economic loss on any property. It’s easy to miss a booster, or assume dropping one vaccination from the recommended schedule for lambs will be safe – it isn’t. Clostridial diseases in particular are highly fatal and vaccination throughout the animal’s lifetime is required to maintain solid immunity.

At CVH we stock all required sheep vaccines. As with all our large animal merchandise, we care for our product and all vaccines are rigorously maintained at correct temperatures in refrigerated cabinets.

Key sheep diseases prevented by vaccination

The most common fatal diseases in sheep are the 5 clostridial diseases:

  • Enterotoxaemia (pulpy kidney)
  • Tetanus
  • Blackleg
  • Black disease
  • Malignant oedema and swelled head in rams (same clostridial organism, different conditions)

Caseous lymphadenitis (cheesy gland or CLA) is another disease that, while not usually fatal, causes economic loss to carcasses and routine vaccination is highly recommended.

Clostridial and CLA vaccination schedule

At CVH we recommend 6 in 1 vaccination. This protects against the 5 clostridial diseases plus cheesy gland.

  1. Lambs must have 2 doses of vaccine, 4 to 6 weeks apart, to achieve full immunity. The first vaccination is given at marking, the second as above or at weaning.
  2. Adult sheep vaccinated as lambs require an annual booster.
  3. Introduced adult sheep with no vaccination history must be given 2 vaccinations 4 to 6 weeks apart, then an annual booster.
  4. The annual booster for ewes should be given 2 to 6 weeks pre-lambing. This not only protects the ewe during lambing, it also provides immunity to her lamb from antibodies in the ewe’s colostrum. This lasts 6 to 8 weeks, usually tapering off to coincide with the lamb’s first vaccination at marking.
  5. It is often recommended that weaners going onto lush pastures receive additional boosters every 3-4 months to protect against pulpy kidney. This can be replaced by annual boosters once they are adults.
  6. The best time to annually vaccinate wethers is 4 to 6 weeks pre-shearing. This provides protection against the higher risk of cheesy gland at shearing.

 

Scabby mouth

Scabby mouth is another non-fatal but debilitating disease in sheep. Routine vaccination is primarily recommended in flocks where the disease exists. The vaccine contains live virus, and unless an entire flock is vaccinated, non-vaccinated stock can be vulnerable to infection.

A single scabby mouth vaccination protects sheep for life. The vaccine can be administered in lambs from 2 days of age but is usually administered at marking (it takes 2 weeks before protection is established).

NOTE:

  1. pregnant ewes should not be vaccinated within 6 weeks of lambing
  2. sheep destined for the live sheep export market must be vaccinated against scabby mouth.

Scabby mouth is a zoonosis – this means it is contagious to humans! When vaccinating, always wear gloves and protective clothing to protect against inadvertent vaccination splash entering skin wounds.

 

Guidar vaccine

Developed in Spain, Guidar vaccine provides protection against Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD) and significantly reduces mortality in infected flocks when administered at the correct age and in the correct circumstances. It is not a routinely administered vaccination and while CVH stocks Guidar, we strongly recommend discussing its use on your particular property with our vets before you proceed.

Schedule:

  1. One vaccination provides lifelong immunity IF the vaccine is given to lambs under 14 weeks of age (it can be administered as early as 4 weeks).
  2. The vaccine must be administered under the skin behind the ear – this is the only approved injection site.
  3. The vaccine can be given to adult sheep, but it will only be effective if given to sheep that have not been exposed to OJD. Speak with our vets if you are thinking of vaccinating adults in your flock or new introductions.
  4. The NSW Department of Agriculture provides guidelines for identifying by tag all animals vaccinated with Guidar.

Guidar vaccine is also dangerous to humans. Take great care when using the vaccine – if advertently delivered to humans, it causes massive necrosis (severe tissue inflammation).