Pre-lambing jabs now cut stress in ewes
EWES should be vaccinated for clostridial diseases at least four weeks pre-lambing to avoid metabolic disorders triggered by stress.
Ledbury-based vet Derek Stoakes says the vaccine – designed to protect the lamb from clostridial diseases via the ewes colostrum – should be given six to eight weeks before lambing for maximum effectiveness.
"Handling and moving ewes causes stress and vaccinating them too close to lambing increases the risk of twin lamb disease or mineral deficiency," he says. But leave it too long between vaccination and lambing and the effectiveness of the drug could be reduced.
"With a long lambing period expected it could be beneficial to split the flock and vaccinate groups according to when they are due to lamb." To cut stress he advises flockmasters handle ewes with care in a well designed race that ewes are familiar with.
"Vaccinate with clean, sharp needles which are changed regularly or through an automatic syringe with a cleaner," says Mr Stoakes.
"It is possible to treat the lamb itself against most of the clostridial diseases at about four weeks old. But this will not protect lambs against lamb dysentery, which causes high mortality rates within days of lambing.
"This would require a specific vaccination administered at birth, which could increase costs and any flockmasters considering this course should contact their vets," he says. *