Vac­ci­nate for lamb­ing

CHB Mail - - Farm Focus - BY KAREN PHILIPS BVSc, MVM, MANZCVS (Phar­ma­col­ogy, An­i­mal Wel­fare)

Re­search in­di­cates that ewes in­fected with tox­o­plasma in early preg­nancy ex­pe­ri­ence fe­tal death and re­sorp­tion.

Tox­o­plas­mo­sis in sus­cep­ti­ble breed­ing ewes causes abor­tions, still­births and neona­tal deaths. Re­search in­di­cates that ewes in­fected with tox­o­plasma in early preg­nancy ex­pe­ri­ence fe­tal death and re­sorp­tion. This is of­ten mis­taken for ewe in­fer­til­ity and re­sults in the un­nec­es­sary culling of oth­er­wise fer­tile an­i­mals. Ewes in­fected in mid­preg­nancy or later are likely to abort, or give birth to still­born or weak lambs that fail to thrive.

Tox­o­plas­mo­sis costs you in three ways:

The loss of lambs by abor­tion, ei­ther by lowlevel unseen losses, or large-scale abor­tion storms.

The birth of weak lambs, which fail to thrive or die.

The culling of fer­tile ewes, which be­cause of un­de­tected early abor­tion are pre­sumed bar­ren.

Tox­o­plas­mo­sis oc­curs through­out New Zealand. Re­search shows it has been present on 100 per cent of New Zealand sheep farms. Ev­ery sheep flock can be af­fected by on­go­ing in­sid­i­ous fe­tal losses and abor­tion storms. Ewe hoggets and two tooths are at most risk, but any ewe that con­tracts tox­o­plas­mo­sis for the first time while she is pregnant is likely to lose her lamb/s.

There is a vac­cine avail­able which is a sin­gle dose vac­cine that pro­vides breed­ing ewes with life­time pro­tec­tion against the ef­fects of tox­o­plas­mo­sis. Vac­ci­na­tion in­creases lamb­ing per­cent­age by an av­er­age of 3 per cent and de­creases the in­ci­dence of dry ewes by an av­er­age of 14 per cent.

It is a live vac­cine, has a short shelf life and is made to or­der. You need to or­der vac­cine from your vet at least four weeks be­fore you need it, at least eight weeks be­fore mat­ing.

Now is a good time to vac­ci­nate 2 tooth ewes go­ing into your flock as re­place­ments.

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