17 May 1996

Wales is

skimping vaccines

MOST Welsh farmers are tolerating big enzootic abortion and toxoplasmosis losses rather than vaccinating.

Almost 20% of ewes in some parts of Scotland were vaccinated. But the figure for Wales, where recent MAFF survey indicated that 50% of flocks have enzootic abortion and 70% toxoplasmosis, is less than 2% of breeding sheep.

Intervet, makers of vaccines against abortion, claims that ADAS costings show that each aborted lowland ewe represents a direct income loss of £95. A company survey has revealed that 33% of farmers are unaware the vaccine exists, and another third accept abortion as one cause of unavoidable average lamb losses.

Launching a vaccine awareness campaign at Welshpool, Powys, location of the UKs biggest sheep market, development manager Graham Webster urged flockmasters not to wait for a serious abortion storm before tackling the profit draining abortion problem.

He conceded that three factors made it difficult to encourage use of prescription only vaccines. One was the limited average contact between vets and producers. Secondly, many traditionally used a pre-lambing broad spectrum antibiotic such as tetracycline to reduce the incidence of abortion and a range other problems like pasteurella.

"The third is cost," Dr Webster said. "But the £3.90 a ewe one shot dose of Enzovax represents a cost of 78p a ewe a year over the five-year life of an ewe."

Vaccinating against toxoplasmosis cost 42p a ewe a year, compared to the the £1.24 a year spent preventing clostridal diseases. Vaccination, he argued was more cost effective than spending about 50p a year on a specific antibiotic.