Sheep and cattle farmers now have a choice of Schmallenberg vaccines, following UK approval of a new vaccine developed by Merial Animal Health scientists in France.

Schmallenberg emerged in late 2011 and can lead to sheep and cattle having stillborn or deformed offspring. It is transmitted mainly by midges.

Findlay MacBean, the company’s head of large animal business says SBVvax will provide a cost-effective solution for producers wanting to protect their flocks pre-tupping over the coming months.

See also: Schmallenberg ‘affected 60% of dairy herds in South West’

“We also believe it will be a useful tool for beef or dairy farmers bringing replacements into their herds and vaccinating cows prior to bulling.”

The company also claims it is the only vaccine licensed for the prevention of viraemia where viruses enter the bloodstream, in both cattle and sheep, rather than just reducing virus numbers in blood.

Protection from Schmallenberg is provided by a single low-volume dose for sheep and two low-volume doses, three weeks apart for cattle. The vaccine is licensed for use in non-pregnant animals from two-and-a-half months old. Onset of immunity has been demonstrated three weeks after the primary vaccination course.

The impact of the virus is most evident in newborn animals, where malformation or still birth are common, he says. Death of ewes and cattle after birth and reduction in fertility through abortions and early re-absorption has also been observed.

It joins Bovilis SBV, manufactured by MSD Animal Health, which was the first vaccine specifically targeting the Schmallenberg virus in cattle and sheep.

Farmers wanting more information about vaccinating their flock or herd should consult their vet.