‘The majority of lamb losses are due to preventable causes, in particular due to sheep abortion,’ according to veterinary surgeon Bosco Cowley.
Addressing a National Sheep Association meeting in Omagh entitled ‘Abortion, the Hidden Cost’ he revealed that in some flocks one in every five potential lambs is lost due to abortion.
“Running that ewe for a year to produce nothing but a fleece guarantees a large loss on your investment,” commented the veterinarian from MSD Animal Health.
“A practical flock health plan plays a key role in the success of any sheep enterprise because so many losses are preventable.
“Enzootic Abortion and Toxoplasmosis are responsible for about 75% of all abortions so a correct diagnosis is vital in order to select and use the most appropriate vaccines to protect flock health and profitability.
“Now is the time to act to maximise your lamb crop next spring with fewer abortions and fewer weakly lambs. The only truly cost effective way to control losses associated with toxoplasmosis is through vaccination at least 3 weeks before ewes are introduced to the ram for breeding.
“Toxovax is unique in being the only vaccine available for this condition. It protects ewes against toxoplasmosis at all stages of pregnancy hence reducing the barren rate, abortion rate and numbers of weak lambs seen when toxoplasmosis occurs in flocks.”
Continuing the NSA guest speaker also urged farmers to consult their vets about using Enzovax vaccine to help keep Enzootic Abortion at bay. Enzootic abortion can become a very big problem from one season to the next due to ewes becoming infected at lambing time, but showing no outward sign of infection until they abort the following year.
As a result a small number of aborting ewes in one season can infect a large number of ewes in the lambing shed leading to significant abortion storms the following season. Vaccination is the most effective means of control and must be administered at least 4 weeks before tupping.
Where possible, maintaining a closed flock and keeping homebred replacement ewes maximises biosecurity and reduces the risk of enzootic abortion being introduced to the flock.
Continuing Bosco Crowley advised farmers to “Consider previous losses and seek advice from your attending veterinary surgeon to determine an appropriate course of action to prevent future losses.
“Plan now to minimise disease by putting in a place a flock health regime that includes abortion prevention with the aid of Toxovax and Enzovax vaccines if deemed necessary by your veterinary surgeon.
“These two vaccines can be given at the same time and their overall cost is but a tiny fraction of the true costs of ‘ghost lambs’ that never appear in your flock due to abortion.”
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