sheep© Tim Scrivener

Producers keeping store lambs through the autumn and winter should vaccinate now against clostridial disease and pasteurella.

That’s according to AHDB Beef & Lamb, which says it is important to vaccinate now as we enter a time of year that often sees a rise in diseases triggered by adverse weather and other stressors, such as moving.

“Producers are urged to check the status of bought-in store lambs and, if in doubt, revaccinate,” says Liz Genever, senior livestock scientist at AHDB Beef & Lamb.

See also: Lamb producers warned to treat stock for ‘high risk’ diseases

It issued the advice on the back of the results of a two-year AHDB Beef & Lamb-funded project that saw the collection and analysis of post-mortem data from 856 lamb carcasses.

It found that one in seven of the lambs submitted died as a result of Pasteurella septicaemia or Pasteurella pneumonia, with a clear peak in the autumn – particularly for Septicaemia pasteurellosis.

Meanwhile, nearly one in eight had died of clostridial diseases, including pulpy kidney, red gut and lamb dysentery, it found.

Early autumn peak

While incidence of clostridial disease, which can be triggered by a change in diet, peaks in the spring, the study found a secondary peak in the early autumn.

“Most of these losses are preventable as clostridial vaccines work very well and are cost-effective,” says Dr Genever.

“In the case of fed lambs, they are at particular risk if they do not receive a booster prior to change in diet, as any immunity they received from colostrum at birth may have waned by this point.”

For pasteurellosis – triggered by worms, Border disease, trade element deficiency, adverse weather and overstocking – a booster is also recommended for lambs to help reduce losses, she says.

“Vaccines are usually very effective when used on health animals and according to the data sheet instruction.

“Lambs vaccinated when they are young may lose their immunity by the autumn and so it is advised that a booster is given,” says Dr Genever.