Vaccination is a huge part of animal husbandry and ensuring you optimise flock production. Consider a pre-lamb vaccination for clostridial diseases, vaccinate with Toxovax (once) and Campylovexin (twice) prior to mating. Give iodine and/or selenium supplements if environmental conditions require it and a pre-lamb anthelmintic if faecal egg counts are high.

The clostridial diseases include Pulpy Kidney, Tetanus, Malignant Oedema, Black disease and Black Leg. They are in the environment, they are the bugs responsible for decomposing dead organic matter either animal or plant. They can be found in the gut of animals. When they get out of control – there is trouble.

Pulpy Kidney causes sudden death of calves after a change of feed – usually the biggest calf in the mob.

Tetanus bacteria enter the body from a cut in the skin and lead to “lock jaw” and terminal seizures.

Malignant Oedema (gas gangrene) gets in from skin wounds, which become necrotic, then gassy – the animal then succumbs to blood poisoning.

Black disease occurs secondarily to liver fluke infection. The immature liver fluke damage the liver, allowing clostridial bacteria to multiply, causing tissue damage followed by blood poisoning and death.

Black leg causes necrosis and blackening of muscles (usually of the leg) followed by gas production, blood poisoning and death.

Traditionally these above diseases have been prevented by using “5 in 1” vaccines – e.g. Ultravac 5 in 1.

The normal vaccination protocol is a sensitizer dose of ‘eg. Ultravac 5 in 1’ , followed a month later by a booster dose.This can be given at any age for Ultravac but normally done at tailing.

To give immediate protection against tetanus at tailing, Lamb Vaccine can be given if you are not sure if the mother was correctly vaccinated which allows her to pass on protection to her lambs.

A booster dose is due every 12 months thereafter.

Toxoplasmosis

This can effect a number of animals including people. Toxoplasma causes disease throughout the country. Nationwide blood testing shows that this disease is present on 100% of farms in New Zealand respectively. Up to 30% of a flock may be effected causing a considerable effect on reproductive performance. Usually sheep abort in late pregnancy. Infection can be associated with cats, as cats are the only known final host for this coccidia organism.

Infected cats excrete vast numbers of oocysts in their faeces over a short time. Intermediate hosts, such as sheep ingest these oocysts to become infected. Once infected, immunity is very strong. Ewe hogget’s and two tooth’s are most at risk, but any ewe that contracts Toxoplasmosis for the first time while she is pregnant is likely to lose her lambs.

Abortion samples are required for a diagnosis. Prevention is best achieved through vaccination (Toxovax).

Order your Toxovax as early as possible. Toxovax has a 10 day shelf life so is manufactured to meet orders or expected demand. A minimum of 4 weeks is required between ordering and use date if supply is to be guaranteed.

Toxovax must be injected at least 4 weeks before the ram goes out and with a 4 week order period, orders should be placed with the clinic at least 8 weeks prior to your expected mating date. This vaccination will last for their life.

Campylobacter

This is the most common cause of abortion in sheep and an outbreak can reach up to 70% effected. Campylobacter causes disease throughout the country. Nationwide blood testing shows that this disease is present on 88% of farms in New Zealand respectively.

All ages are susceptible, but older sheep previously exposed will be less likely to abort. Usually, abortion is in the last two months of pregnancy, but often they are unseen. Often ewes scanned in July will be very different from lambs born, with a large amount of abortion occurring between scanning and lambing.

Research demonstrates that in flocks not previously vaccinated, a 6% increase in lambing is likely due to vaccination of that flock compared to an unvaccinated flock. This is due to the insidious sub clinical abortion that occurs.

Vaccination is now common throughout New Zealand. Two doses are given to ewe hoggets, the first prior to mating and the second 4 to 6 weeks later. Ewes require an annual vaccination there-after.