The timetable for vaccinating your sheep depends on your region and the diseases prevalent in your area. It also depends on the animal's age and use. Your veterinarian can help you devise the best vaccination schedule. Even if you give your own vaccinations for your livestock, follow your vet's recommendations.
No matter where you live or the age of your sheep, you should vaccinate your flock regularly for tetanus and two types of enterotoxemia, commonly called overeating disease. The three-in-one vaccine known as CD-T provides protection against these potentially fatal ailments caused by clostridium bacteria. Lambs must receive this vaccine within a few days of birth, as overeating disease is a leading cause of death in babies. They need another CD-T shot a few months later, at weaning.
If you're raising sheep, you need to plan ewe vaccination around your breeding schedule. Approximately three weeks before mating, vaccinate your ewes for campylobacter, a bacteria that can cause abortions. Three weeks before ewes are due to give birth, vaccinate them for CD-T to provide some immunity for the newborn lamb through colostrum. If this is the ewe's first lambing, vaccinate her twice during pregnancy for CD-T. All ewes should receive an intranasal influenza vaccine at the same time as the CD-T shot.
Sore mouth, the common term for contagious ecthyma, causes lesions on a sheep's mouth. If sheep in your flock are exposed to the virus, it can spread through milk to lambs. This live vaccine can affect humans, so wear gloves and be careful during administration. This vaccine isn't injected. It's placed on the sheep's skin -- you might have to shear off a small bit of fleece -- with an applicator. You can also place the vaccine inside the ear or on a ewe's tail. Vaccinate lambs on the inner thigh. Vaccinate your flock annually.
Foot rot, also known as foot scald, often occurs in areas that get a lot of rainy weather. Although vaccines don't offer 100 percent protection against the disease, they do reduce the severity of infection if you're adhering to good management practices. Vaccinate for foot rot every three to six months, depending on your climate. Always vaccinate before a rainy season, such as early spring in many parts of the country.
- University of Minnesota Extension: The Use of Vaccines in Sheep
- University of Maryland Extension: Vaccinations for Sheep and Goats
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences: Sheep Vaccines and Vaccination Schedule
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Sheep Management Schedule
- Montana State University Animal and Range Sciences Department: Sheep Flock Management Calendar - Section 7 of 7
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Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.