Sheep vaccines: Which to use when?

By Condobolin District Vet, Dr Hanna Dobell

August 2020

With a plethora of vaccines on the market, which vaccine should I use is a very common question that we receive.

Almost all vaccination programs require two initial doses for it to be effective. If the second dose is not given to an animal shortly after the first (ideally, within 4-6 weeks) the protection given is short-lived and your money, time and effort has been wasted.

After these two initial doses the majority of vaccines require an annual booster (unless pulpy kidney is an issue). It is a good idea to time this annual booster in your ewe flock 4-6 weeks prior to lambing to obtain optimal levels of maternal antibodies in colostrum to help protect lambs prior to first vaccines.

Vaccines can help reduce the incidence of various diseases that impact our sheep flocks including;

  • Enterotoxemia (Pulpy kidney) in sheep (particularly younger stock) going onto a rising plane of nutrition
  • Black disease in areas where parasite damage to the liver can result in ideal conditions for this bacteria
  • Blackleg where damage to muscles (by grass seeds, injections, injury) can also set up ideal conditions
  • Malignant oedema due to injury, with lambing ewes at high risk at lambing or with difficult births
  • Tetanus is a problem when there are injuries, especially at lamb marking
  • Cheesy Gland is spread with shearing, dipping and via injury. It a major cause of economic loss in the meat industry due to trimming and condemnation.
  • Scabby mouth (particularly in young stock). This disease causes painful lesions around the mouth, lips, eyes, nose and occasionally feet and teats of affected sheep that can cause significant production loss and possibly death in these animals. People can also contract scabby mouth.
  • Erysipelas is a common cause of arthritis in lambs and young weaned sheep. Causes significant wastage as affected animals are generally not saleable.
  • Campylobacter is a common cause of late term abortion in ewes. Generally an issue is only detected due to low marking percentages.
  • OJD causes significant production loss. There is often no sign for the first few years hence why it is referred to as a ‘silent but costly disease’. It has a long incubation period so by the time OJD is identified it is generally well established.

Some sheep vaccines on the market include;

  • 3 in 1 – Prevents tetanus, pulpy kidney and cheesy gland
  • 5 in 1 – prevents five clostridial diseases (pulpy kidney, tetanus, black disease, malignant oedema and blackleg)
  • 6 in 1 – as above plus cheesy gland
  • 8 in 1- helps prevent 8 clostridial disease (contains 5 in 1 as above + helps prevent lamb dysentery and post parturient gangrene in ewes). Does not prevent cheesy gland.
  • Scabigard (scabby mouth)- This is a single dose live vaccine. You only use this vaccine if you have a history of scabby mouth on your property or have biosecurity concerns.
  • Guidair (OJD)- one off vaccine of lambs at marking. Costs approximately $3/head- cheap insurance for a costly disease.
  • Eryvac- Vaccine to assist in preventing Erysipelas arthritis.
  • Campyvac – used to prevent campylobacter abortions in ewes. Due to constraints faced with diagnosis of Camylobacter abortion in flocks vaccine can be used as a trial to evaluate if campylobacter is causing significant losses on property (if guidelines are followed).

If you have any questions regarding what vaccine may be best for your enterprise please contact your Local Land Services District Veterinarian.

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