Sheep producers are failing to capitalise on the efficacy and value of proven vaccines by not following product usage instructions correctly, according to sheep vet, Anne Gibbs, MacArthur, Barstow and Gibbs, Worcestershire.
Speaking in light of an independent pilot study conducted by the practice, Ms Gibbs said there is a worrying level of product misuse among producers.
“Despite many sheep farmers using a number of different vaccines to try and control clostridial problems, enzootic abortion and footrot, problems are still occurring due to unrealistic expectations and questionable vaccine procedures.
Ms Gibbs interviewed more than 80 sheep producers at a local livestock market and identified a number of areas where farmers where not using their vaccines properly.
“Common errors are failing to complete recommended primary vaccination courses, vaccinating lambs too early, not storing products in the fridge and even re-using part-opened packs that have been on farm for months.”
Other issues included failing to change needles frequently enough and injecting sheep in the wrong places.
Commenting on the study, Alasdair King from Intervet/Shering-Plough Animal Health, found the results worrying. “A tremendous amount of work goes into the development and testing of vaccines and it is important to follow the recommendations on the datasheet.”
As a result of the study, Ms Gibbs is now offering clients strict guidelines to optimise vaccine performance. “Needles should be changed at least every 50 sheep and any left over vials should be thrown away at the end of the day.”
“The vaccines are good, but to work effectively, it is vital manufacturer usage guidelines are followed,” she said.