What should I vaccinate my sheep for?
Answer: The two primary diseases that I would recommend vaccinating for are overeating and tetanus. Overeating disease is caused by Clostridium perfringens, types C and D. Vaccinating for tetanus is recommended if you are banding tails or testicles. The vaccine for this group of Clostridium is called Bar Vac CD-T.If you would like to also cover Clostridium chauvoei, Cl. septicum, Cl. novyi Type B, Cl. Haemolyticum (known elsewhere as Cl. novyi Type D), and Cl. tetani, the vaccine Covexin is advised. Covexin is more expensive than Bar Vac CD-T, but is advisable if you live in an area where there is redwater and blackleg. Many veterinarians prefer the added protection of Covexin.An additional class of infections in sheep is those that cause aborted fetuses. The two most common are vibrio and toxoplasmosis. Vibrio is caused by Campylobacter bacteria and can be vaccinated for. An initial dose a few weeks before breeding and a booster dose 60 to 90 days later is advised. Annual boosts are essential. Vibrio is not a venereal disease. It is caused by high concentrations of sheep eating feces-contaminated hay during the winter. Ingestion of deer feces has also been implicated. In general, the fetus is aborted three to four weeks before term. There are many sheep producers who do not vaccinate for vibrio unless they experience problems with the disease. However, the symptoms can be quite devastating, with up to 60% of the flock affected.Toxoplasmosis is caused by ingestion of cat feces that is present on hay and grain, causing ewes to abort in the last four weeks of gestation. It is quite common but can be eliminated by removing the source. Besides abortion, it can cause encephalitis and pneumonitis. There is no vaccination for toxoplasmosis, but it can be treated.If you are experiencing problems with pneumonia in your lambs, Nasalgen is a very effective vaccine. It is not labeled for sheep and must be administered with the consent of a veterinarian. It is inexpensive and easy to give intra-nasally. However, remember that the number-one reason lambs get pneumonia is from a lack of nutrition, most notably from losing their mothers.Soremouth is another sheep disease that can be vaccinated for. Sometimes the efficacy of the vaccine is in question. If you are experiencing excessive cases of soremouth, the vaccine is worth a try.Again, eliminating the cause usually is better than vaccinating for the symptoms. Soremouth is often caused by unsanitary conditions, particularly lambing jugs. Disassemble, scrub, and set your jugs out in the sun after lambing. This will go a long way in preventing the problem. A comprehensive discussion of vaccinating for sheep diseases can be found in the Small Ruminant Toolbox Flash Drive under Sheep Ruminant Health. The cost of the Toolbox is $8.00, including shipping. I would heartily recommend this inexpensive yet highly informative resource for your sheep library. More information is available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=467.