Sheep are born to die! - or so a depressed farmer told us when his luck was a bit low. They are very healthy animals but do seem to lose the will very easily if they become ill!

Sheep practice involves mainly advice, vaccinations and some lambings in the Spring. Most problems are flock problems which are sorted out on a flock basis on the results of examinations and laboratory work.

We rarely treat individual sheep, other than for lambing, but are involved in deciding vaccination and de-worming protocols for the whole flock.

Autumn flock healthcheck -

Maintaining a healthy flock requires year-round vigilance, not least in the autumn when many farmers buy in new stock.This is also the main time of the year when it is possible to introduce diseases into an otherwise healthy flock. Here we look at some advice from Intervet on how to maintain flock health now, through tupping and into the spring lambing periodThe golden rule when purchasing any replacements is to assume that they have not been vaccinated at all. This is a belt and braces approach that doesn't rely on the testimony of those selling the sheep and will lead to a flock with an improved health status

Pasteurella and clostridial control

When it comes to protecting against pasteurellosis and clostridial diseases, it is advisable to treat replacements as you would any of your breeding ewes. Two injections of Heptavac-P Plus four to six weeks apart when they come into the flock, followed by a booster a month before each lambing. This is the best way to ensure protection, not only against pasteurellosis, but also the seven main clostridial diseases. The pre-lambing booster dose is essential as it protects new-born lambs untill they can be vaccinated. Fattening lambs should be vaccinated against pulpy kidney and tetanus (at least!) at 12 weeks of age.

Abortion control

You may well have read or heard about Intervet's annual FlockCheck survey, which assesses the threat from two of the main causes of abortion, stillbirth and barrenness in sheep - toxoplasmosis and enzootic abortion. Results from the 2006 survey have just been published and they once again show that both diseases are still a major cause for concern in many flocks. A rule of thumb is that for any flocks with more than a 2% abortion rate, vaccination with the only licensed combination of vaccines - Enzovax® and Toxovax® - will result in cost savings. Autumn is the time for vaccinating against these two diseases

Worm control

Worms, like any disease, can be introduced into a flock via replacements. Quarantining and drenching all incoming stock with a clear and a yellow drench (e.g. Vectin® 0.08% and Levacur® SC 3%) sequentially is strongly recommended, as is using the correct dose of wormer. Underdosing can lead to resistance so it is advisable to assess bodyweight as accurately as possible and dose accordingly. Faecal egg counts are a great method for determining worm burdens at this stage.

More information on any of the issues raised in this article can be obtained directly from the large animal team at Parkside.

ORF 10-point management checkilst

1. Buy replacement stock from known, disease-free sources.
2. Quarantine any bought--in sheep and examine them for Orf symptoms.
3. Isolate any affected animals immediately.
4. If practical, nurse affected animals to minimise pain and discomfort.
5. Provide plenty of bedding for sick animals to cut the chances of non affected animals coming into contact with any infected scabs that have been shed.
6. Remember discarded Orf scabs in buildings or on grass can be infectious to healthy sheep for up to six weeks.
7. Talk to your vet about minimising secondary bacterial infections.
8. If Orf does break out in your flock, talk to your vet about a vaccination regime.
9. Humans can catch Orf – make sure all staff are aware of the health consequences of working with infected stock and take the necessary precautions to prevent infection.
10. Do not vaccinate sheep on farms or in flocks where Orf isnotalready present.





Here you can see the Jacob breed, rarely kep commercially but common in rare-breeds collections. Note the 4 horns on the head and the brown/black/white wool.