Sheep farmers praise vaccinations

AHDB Beef & Lamb’s recent Fallen Stock initiative has revealed that pulpy kidney and deaths caused by pasteurella in lambs were more common in the month of October. To prevent damage to the business, sheep producers ought to ensure their animals are vaccinated, said the levy body. 

Sheep farmer James Wright admitted to Meat Trades Journal that he does experience some issues with his 400-strong flock at this time of year, although it isn’t necessarily related to the calendar month. Wright lambs his sheep in April, which he confessed to being quite late.

“We do see issues, but it’s more because of the number of sheep we’ve got, because this is the time where we have the most amount of sheep on the farm, so now we do get the most problems,” said Wright. “But I don’t think that’s representative of the time of year, I think it’s just the system we’re on.”

Wright breeds his own sheep, all of which are lambed outdoors, which he believes accounts for a sturdy flock. Most of the problems he comes across within his farm are down to sheep being brought in.

One issue he has faced is fly strike. This occurs when a blowfly lays its eggs in the wool of a sheep. When the maggots hatch, they start to eat the animal’s flesh. To prevent this, Wright uses Clik, a pour-on solution, every six months.

“If we didn’t have it, we would lose a lot more. If you just look at our ram lambs, we had 200 of them, and we’ve had fly strike on three of them. I think if we didn’t use Clik on them, we would have fly strike on the majority. But even then I would say three is too high.”

In the Fallen Stock initiative, it was highlighted by AHDB that, in monitored areas, only 12% of lambs had been vaccinated.

West Yorkshire sheep farmer Terry Fort pointed out that he doesn’t experience any extra issues at this time of year. He believes that starting vaccinations when the lambs are young is key to preventing illness.

“They get two vaccinations to get them onto our system, any time from six weeks old,” said Fort. “After that they need two injections six weeks apart. Then they just need a booster once a year after that.”

So while sheep farmers’ businesses do not always reflect a peak in illness at this time of year, treating sheep throughout the year with vaccinations or solutions can be crucial to having a healthy and thriving flock.

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