Feed additive solution to toxoplasmosis

FLOCKS UNABLE to vaccinate against toxoplasmosis abortion last autumn due to vaccine shortages can reduce the chances of abortions by incorporating Deccox in feed, but must start 14 weeks before lambing.

Philip Keogh of Alpharma, Deccox”s manufacturer, says the target intake of product is 2mg of decoquinate/kg of bodyweight daily. “In mid-pregnancy this means adding 6.68kg of premix/t of feed when feeding ewes at 250g/50kg of bodyweight daily.

“However, in late pregnancy, when feeding ewes 500g/50kg of bodyweight, the inclusion rate can be reduced to 3.34kg of premix/t.”

To achieve adequate protection against toxoplasmosis abortion, Deccox should be fed for the last two thirds of pregnancy or continuously – from about 14 weeks before lambing. While feeding for this length of time may appear expensive, Mr Keogh reckons the cost is justifiable.

“It costs about 5-6p/ewe/day to feed Deccox in a feed block, including the cost of the block. But, according to ADAS figures, 25 abortions in 100 ewes, an abortion rate which could happen, would cost 1762. This easily covers the 290 it would cost to feed Deccox and the additive also increases lamb birthweight.”

For flocks with a history of toxoplasmosis, Mr Keogh says there is no need to feed Deccox to the entire flock. It only needs to be fed to susceptible animals, such as bought-in sheep.

“However, where there is no history of the disease and flocks are not usually vaccinated there is no need to feed Deccox. Toxovax is a one-dose vaccine, so previously vaccinated sheep will already be protected.”