Sheep Vaccinations

Flock vaccinations

Vaccinations are an important half of a flock health management program. They provide cheap “insurance” against diseases which will commonly affect sheep and lambs.

Clostridial Diseases

On most farms, the sole universally-recommended vaccine for sheep and lambs is that the CD-T toxoid. The CD-T toxoid provides three-means protection against enterotoxemia caused by Clostridium perfringens varieties C and D and tetanus (lockjaw) caused by Clostridium tetani. There are seven and 8-means clostridial vaccines that provide protection against additional clostridial diseases, like blackleg and malignant edema, however the additional protection is often not necessary.

Sort C

Enterotoxemia type C, conjointly referred to as hemorrhagic enteritis or “bloody scours,” affects lambs principally during their first few weeks of life, causing a bloody infection in the little intestine. Sort C enterotoxemia is often related to indigestion and is predisposed by a modification in feed, such as starting creep feeding or a step-up within the milk offer, perhaps caused by the loss of a littermate. The only way to protect lambs from sort C enterotoxemia is to vaccinate their dams during late pregnancy.

Type D

Enterotoxemia type D is “classic” overeating disease. It is conjointly known as “pulpy kidney disease.” Sort D enterotoxemia sometimes affects lambs that are over one month old. Usually it is the biggest, fastest growing lamb(s) in the flock that are affected. Type D overeating disease is usually precipitated by a sudden modification in feed that causes the bacteria, already present in the lamb’s gut, to proliferate, resulting in a toxic, usually fatal reaction. Sort D is most typically observed in lambs that are consuming high concentrate diets, but can conjointly occur in lambs nursing significant milking dams.

Passive immunity

To confer passive immunity to lambs through the colostrum (first milk), ewes ought to be vaccinated with the CD-T toxoid approximately 4 weeks prior to lambing. Ewes lambing for the primary time ought to be vaccinated twice in late pregnancy, four weeks apart. Maternal antibodies can defend lambs for six to eight weeks so long as lambs consumed adequate amounts of colostrum. It’s suggested that a lamb consume 10 percent of its body weight in colostrum.


Sheep should receive their first CD-T vaccination once they are approximately vi to 8 weeks of age, followed by a booster four weeks later. If pastured animals are later brought into confinement or dry lot for concentrate feeding, a 3rd vaccination ought to be given. Some consultants recommend giving artificially-reared lambs multiple vaccinations.

Sheep whose dams were not vaccinated for C and D will be vaccinated with some success at two to 3 days old and once more in two weeks. However, later vaccinations will probably be a lot of effective, as colostral antibodies usually interfere with vaccinations at very young ages. The lamb’s immature immune system may conjointly not be able to retort to vaccination at such a young age.

A better alternative might be to vaccinate offspring from non-vaccinated dams after they are approximately four weeks old, followed by a booster 4 weeks later. Anti-toxins can give immediate short-term immunity if dams weren’t vaccinated or in the event of disease outbreak or vaccine failure.

Feeder Sheep

Purchased feeder lambs ought to be vaccinated for kind D enterotoxemia at the time of purchase and a couple of to four weeks later. Feeder lambs purchased as 4-H or FFA comes ought to receive two type D vaccinations, if they were not vaccinated at the farm of origin.


Lambs whose dams weren’t vaccinated for tetanus should be given the tetanus antitoxin at the time of docking and castrating, especially if elastrator bands are used. An antitoxin provides immediate short-term immunity. If a tetanus toxoid product is run at the time of docking or castration, it will not provide adequate immunity, as toxoids take ten days to a pair of weeks to produce immunity and need a booster for complete immunity.

Rams and pet sheep should be boostered annually with the CD-T toxoid. As with ewes, they require 2 vaccinations the first time they’re vaccinated.

Different diseases

As well to clostridial diseases, there are various other diseases for that producers may wish to vaccinate. The use of additional vaccines depends upon the health standing of the flock, the perceived disease risk of the flock, and prevalence of diseases in the geographic space where the flock is located. In the U.S. (for sheep), there are licensed vaccines for sore mouth, foot rot, caseous lymphadenitis, abortion, e. coli scours, parainfluenza-3 (PI-3), epididymitis, and rabies. Vaccines that are not approved for sheep are also typically used.

Sore Mouth

There is a vaccine for sore mouth (contagious ecthyma, orf), a viral skin disease commonly affecting sheep and goats. The vaccine is live. It causes sore mouth infection (lesions) at a location (on the animal) and time of the producer’s selecting. Ewes ought to be vaccinated well ahead of lambing. Show animals ought to be vaccinated well before of the primary show.

To use the vaccine, a wool-less space on the animal is scarified, and therefore the rehydrated vaccine is applied to the spot with a brush or similar applicator. Ewes can be vaccinated inside the ear or under the tail. Lambs can be vaccinated within the thigh. Because the sore mouth vaccine is a live vaccine and sore mouth is extremely contagious to humans, care must be taken when applying the vaccine. Gloves ought to be worn when handling the vaccine or animals with sore mouth.

Flocks which are free from sore mouth ought to in all probability not be vaccinated as a result of the sore mouth vaccine will introduce the virus to the flock/premises. Once sore mouth vaccination is begun, it ought to be continued annually.


Footrot is one in all the foremost ubiquitous and economically devastating diseases in the sheep business. It causes considerable economic loss because of the costs associated with treating it and therefore the premature culling of carrier animals. There are two vaccines for footrot and foot scald in sheep: Footvax® ten Strain and Volar™ Footrot Bacterin.

Neither vaccine prevents the diseases from occurring, but when employed in conjunction with alternative management practices like selection/culling, regular foot trimming, foot soaking/bathing, etc., vaccinations can help scale back infection levels. Footrot vaccines should be administered each three to 6 months, prior to anticipated outbreaks of hoof problems (i.e. prior to the wet/rainy season).

Abscesses (at the injection web site) are not uncommon with the footrot vaccines. The limitation of footrot vaccines is that they may not embrace the strain of foot rot that is gift during a explicit flock.

Caseous lymphadenitis (CL)

There is a vaccine for caseous lymphadenitis in sheep. CL affects primarily the lymphatic system and ends up in the formation of abscesses in the lymph nodes. It’s highly contagious. When it affects the internal organs, it evolves into a chronic wasting disease.

The cost of CL to the sheep industry is in all probability grossly underestimated. The CLA vaccine is convenient to use because it is combined with CD-T. Vaccination will reduce the amount of abscesses in the flock, but it can not forestall the disease from occuring.

Abortionpregnant sheep

Abortion is when a feminine loses her offspring throughout pregnancy or provides birth to stillborn, weak, or deformed lambs. There are vaccines (individual and combination) for several of the infectious causes of abortion in sheep: enzootic (EAE/Chlamydia sp.) and vibriosis (Campylobacter fetus).

Abortion vaccines ought to be administered previous to breeding. Ewes being vaccinated for the first time ought to receive a second vaccination (booster) in mid-pregnancy. Producers with downside flocks could think about giving a booster further. Risk factors for abortion embody an open flock and/or a history of abortions within the flock.

Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine (on the market within the U.S.) for toxoplasmosis, another common reason behind abortion in sheep. Since the disease-causing organism is carried by domestic cats, the most effective protection is to manage the farm’s cat population by spaying/neutering and keeping cats from contaminating feed sources.


Epididymitis could be a major reason behind reduced fertility in rams from western range states. There are vaccines for epididymitis (Brucella ovis), but none are deemed totally effective. Moreover, vaccination interferes with the ability to eliminate infected rams from the flock, as vaccinated rams can test positive for B. ovis.

E.Coli Scours

Scours in baby lambs will be caused by E. coli. There is a vaccine which will be administered to ewes at the identical time as CD-T to pass immunity to lambs through the colostrum. An different to vaccination is to administer newborn lambs oral E. coli antibody at birth.


Though the danger to sheep is usually minimal, rabies vaccination may be suggested if the flock is located in a very rabies-infected space, the animals are valuable, and livestock have access to wooded areas or areas frequented by raccoons, skunks, foxes, or alternative known carriers of rabies. Frequent interaction with livestock may be another excuse to consider vaccinating.

The price of the rabies vaccine relative to the worth of the animals ought to be thought of. The large animal rabies vaccine is approved for use in sheep. Producers should consult their veterinarian regarding rabies vaccination. Some states need rabies vaccination for exhibition at fairs and shows. All dogs and cats on the farm should be vaccinated against rabies.

Autogenous vaccines

When no business vaccine is out there, autogenous or custom vaccines will be made. They are usually created from bacteria or viruses that have been isolated on a farm in conjunction with a disease. Autogenous vaccines are sometimes not as effective as industrial vaccines.

Giving Vaccines

Most vaccines are given subcutaneously (sub-Q), i.e. beneath the skin. Some vaccines are given intra muscularly (IM). Occasionally, some are given topically (e.g. sore mouth) or intra nasally (e.g. Nasalgen®). For subcutaneous vaccines, use a one/2 or three/four in., 18- or twenty-gauge needle. Subcutaneous vaccinations can be given over the ribs, behind the armpit, or high up on the neck. The needle used to withdraw vaccine from the bottle ought to not be the same needle used to inject the animal.

In order for vaccination programs to achieve success, label directions should be fastidiously followed. Vaccines should be stored, handled, and administered properly. Solely healthy sheep and lambs ought to be vaccinated. It’s additionally necessary to notice that vaccines have limitations and that the immunity imparted by vaccines can typically by inadequate or overwhelmed by disease challenge.

Future vaccines

With the increasing role of small ruminants in small farms and sustainable farming systems, hopefully animal health companies can develop and license more vaccines for sheep.

Scientists are currently operating to develop vaccines to guard tiny ruminants against Haemonchus contortus and other Castro-intestinal and blood-sucking parasites. The research is promising. Thus so much, the challenge has been developing effective vaccines using recombine DNA technology, as other strategies of vaccine generation aren’t economically possible.

Not vaccinating

Many sheep producers can tell you that they never vaccinate. Different producers vaccinate for diseases which don’t seem to be a high risk. Vaccination could be a type of risk management. Every producer should weights the professionals and cons of vaccinating for a specific disease. If the price of vaccination excess the expected losses, then vaccination is in all probability not cost-effective. Conversely, if expected losses exceed the price of vaccination, the vaccination could be a sensible risk management tool.

At the same time, it is not advisable to wait until you’ve got a disease outbreak before instituting a vaccination program. The risk of a disease’s outbreak should be the factors that’s used to see the requirement for vaccination. A producer’s tolerance for risk will conjointly come back into play.

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