Clostridial diseases

Most sheep keepers aim to protect their sheep from a range of diseases caused by some the bacterial species Clostridium (of which there are many), by routine vaccination.

Clostridial diseases include lamb dysentery, pulpy kidney, struck, tetanus, braxy, blackleg, black disease and clostridial metritis.

Probably the most common vaccine currently in use is Heptavac P Plus – the P stands for Pasteurella, a form of pneumonia that the vaccine also gives protection against.

Heptavac doses

To be protected, sheep need two 2ml doses of the vaccine given 4-6 weeks apart by subcutaneous injection, then an annual 2ml booster 4-6 weeks before lambing. The pre-lambing dose means that the ewe is able to pass immunity on to her lamb that lasts about three weeks. After that, the lambs themselves can receive their own double vaccination.

One of the problems with Heptavac, for the owner of the small flock, is that the smallest pack size is 25 doses and, because it is a vaccine, it needs to be used within 10 hours of opening. A 25 dose bottle costs about £30 (January 2013) and you will need up to three bottles a year (one for the pre-lambing booster and two for the lambs’ initial two doses).

If you can find another small flock owner locally, you may be able to share a bottle and save some money.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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