A BLOOD TEST for the sheep disease caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) is becoming more of a reality as each day passes.

SAC St Boswells vet investigation officer Graham Baird says trials of a test for the disease – which can lead to loss of condition, poor wool growth, poor liveweight gain, carcass condemnation and, in extreme cases, death – are ongoing.

“But it should be available on a limited basis by about February.” Mr Baird says the test will be particularly useful for producers selling breeding rams next autumn. “It will allow breeders to test rams prior to sale to give buyers confidence they are free of disease.

“The best way of using the test will be to test rams a couple of times over the summer prior to sale and to keep them in a separate group from the time of the first test. This means that sheep from that group could be sold as free of active disease.”

But the likelihood of a CLA vaccine being available in the UK has also taken a giant leap forward. Pfizer Animal Health is looking to begin testing the CLA vaccine Glanvac, marketed by its Australian division, says the firm’s Jaimie Brown.

“We are looking to bring in a version of Glanvac which also contains clostridial vaccines and are negotiating with a number of research institutes which are keen to test it,” he adds.