5 January 1996

Miss out ewe vaccinations

at your peril

By Jonathan Riley

A GROWING number of sheep producers are failing to vaccinate ewes against clostridial diseases, according to Dr Tony Andrews of the Royal Vet College.

For producers whose flocks are due to lamb in three weeks, a booster vaccination is now due to control clostridial diseases which include tetany, braxy, pulpy kidney, and lamb dysentery.

Dr Andrews says: "Many producers did not vaccinate last year either because of three-year-old scare stories linking vaccines with metabolic disorders or they were unable to get hold of the vaccine because of supply problems.

"Some will have got away without vaccinating last year and may now think they are able to reduce medicine bills by cutting clostridial disease control from vaccination programmes.

"But clostridial diseases are present on all farms, and flocks will eventually succumb to them. Ewes are prone to infection at lambing and lambs are also vulnerable to a number of clostridial diseases. Vaccination will protect the ewe and antibodies passed on to lambs protect them in the first two weeks of life."

Normally two doses are given a month apart pre-tupping followed by a booster before lambing. In following years, the booster alone is sufficient but full programmes must be given to replacements.

Producers must ensure that ewes are not stressed, particularly nutritionally, when treated.

"To protect lambs, one option is to inject hyper immune serum to give some immunity, particularly for protection against lamb dysentery followed by vaccination.

"Producers who have not vaccinated should consult a vet. It may be possible to administer two doses a month apart with the second dose given three weeks before lambing," says Dr Andrews.