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Vaccinate lambs to ensure a full-value crop.

WITH lamb prices climbing during March and an early Easter, sheep producers are being urged to realise full value for the 2013 crop by making sure finishing lambs on the farm are vaccinated against diseases.

MSD Animal Health livestock veterinary adviser Drew McGurren says losing lambs to easily-preventable diseases this summer really is throwing money away.

"Pneumonia continues to be a significant cause of death in unvaccinated lambs," he said.

"The disease can have a variety of causes, including the stress of adverse weather conditions, but many outbreaks are caused by pasteurellosis.

"Pasteurella are a group of bacteria, with Mannheimia haemolytica and Bibersteinia trehalosi being the most important types to cause disease in sheep. Flock problems usually start with sudden deaths, often in very young lambs."

He warns that the colostrum lambs receive from the ewe shortly after birth only gives them protection for a limited time against pasteurellosis and the clostridial diseases like pulpy kidney, braxy, blackleg and tetanus. If ewes are vaccinated properly with Heptavac-P Plus in the run-up to lambing then the lambs will also gain immunity. But this so-called passive immunity only lasts for so long.

Lambs that receive a good intake of colostrum only have antibodies against pasteurella for up to four weeks and clostridia for up to 12 weeks.

This means that some early season lambs may already be unprotected and if the cold spring continues are at risk from these prevalent disease threats unless they are vaccinated themselves. Drew McGurren recommends vaccinating finishing lambs with Ovivac-P Plus.

He points out that the cost of one severe outbreak of pasteurellosis equates to many years of vaccine use for the average flock.

He said: "The vaccine can be used from three weeks of age and the primary course involves two vaccinations four to six weeks apart.

"An annual booster can be given thereafter, but most lambs are slaughtered before then or start on Heptavac-P Plus instead if they are to be kept as breeding animals."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 4, 2013
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