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Enzootic abortion

’Enzootic abortion is still a common cause of

abortion, despite an effective vaccine being

available. Unfortunately there is no way of

knowing if a sheep is carrying the infection.

The bacteria that cause the disease can lie

dormant until lambing time and blood tests

are unreliable for diagnosing infection in

individuals. So any bought in ewes should

be considered a risk.’

Bryony advises: ’It is good practice to keep

bought in sheep separate from the main

flock until after lambing to reduce the risk of

disease spread at lambing time.’

Preventive actions:

If routinely buying

replacements, consider vaccinating the flock

or source from accredited EAE-free flocks

which are listed on the Premium Sheep and

Goat Health Scheme database at .

Sheep scab

’Scab is caused by a mite living on the skin

of the sheep. It is incredibly contagious and

causes intense itching leading to production

losses. One of the problems with buying

sheep is that they can be carrying scab

without showing any signs; in the early stages

it is undetectable. There is also the possibility

of mites being picked up from the market or

transport lorry.’

Actions required:

The only way of knowing

for sure that your sheep do not have scab, is

to treat them on arrival with an appropriate

macrocyclic lactone injection, or dip them.

SCOPS recommend a 1% moxidectin

injection, but this must not be used in sheep

that have ever had or are likely to have the

vaccine against footrot. There are other

macrocyclic lactone injections available,

but they differ in how long they last and how

many injections are required. It is best to

consult your vet as to which is the most

appropriate treatment.


'Resistant worms are one of the major issues

currently facing the sheep industry.

Resistance to one or all of the three older

generation wormers is commonplace,

resulting in delayed finishing times, and

wasted time and money. Even fit sheep can

be carrying resistant worms, and these will

contaminate previously ‘clean’ land.

'Another threat to flock health is the

blood-sucking worm Haemonchus contortus.

It is not present on every farm, but its effects

can be devastating. It affects lambs and

adult sheep and is seen in late summer and

autumn. Heavy burdens will cause anaemia,

resulting in weight loss, reduced production

and death.’

Actions required:

Give all bought-in sheep a

complete clear out with a double wormer

treatment. Use one of the new generation

wormers (orange 4-AD or purple 5-SI)

teamed with a macrocyclic lactone injection

(i.e. the injection used for sheep scab). This

is a belt and braces approach to ensure

only a very small possibility of any worms

surviving treatment.

It is important to keep sheep yarded for 48

hours after treatment to allow all eggs to

pass out in the dung. This dung should not

be spread onto any grazing pasture. Then

turn out on to dirty pasture (land that has

been grazed by sheep within the past 12

months) just in case any worms have

survived the 2 treatments. The resistant

worms would therefore be diluted amongst

existing worms and they would have less of

an effect than if on clean pasture.

Check out the SCOPS website


for further information

on tackling wormer resistance, and discuss

with your vet as to the best protocol.


’Quarantine treatment is one of the elements

of the 5 Point Plan for lameness control and

is a ’must do’ for reducing levels of lameness

in your flock.

‘However, all too frequently contagious ovine

digital dermatitis – CODD – and highly

virulent strains of footrot are introduced into a

flock on the feet of bought-in sheep. Some

lesions can be very subtle and so some sheep

may carry bacteria without showing much sign

of lameness.’

Actions required:

It is important to: 1) isolate

sheep for at least 3 weeks so that lameness

can be identified, and 2) to inspect all their

feet. If footrot and/or CODD are found, treat

with an appropriate antibiotic. In addition, put

the group through a footbath or spray all feet

with an antibiotic spray. Remember to continue

to isolate until the lameness is fully resolved.

Liver fluke

’Liver fluke is a common parasite in many

parts of the country. It causes weight loss

and poor performance, and in many

cases death. It can be difficult to treat

and manage, and there have been an

increasing number of reports of flukicide

resistance. So if a farm is fluke free, don’t

let it in!’ says Bryony.

Actions required:

Treat for fluke during the

quarantine period and if possible, turn

stock out onto ground with a low fluke

risk. The choice of product might vary

with the time of year and the risk of

bringing in resistance; consult your vet for

farm-specific advice.

Wasting diseases

‘Maedi-Visna (MV) and Caseous

Lymphadenitis (CLA) are both wasting

diseases of which there are accredited-free

health schemes. Sourcing from these flocks

will reduce the chances of bringing in these

diseases. Unfortunately, no such schemes

currently exist for Johne’s Disease or Ovine

Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma, and testing

for these is problematic.’

Preventive action: Private sale and

knowledge of the flock of origin will give

the best chance of avoiding buying in

these diseases. For information on flocks

which are accredited free of Maedi Visna

and CLA, visit the PSGHS database at

Stay biosecure

'Biosecurity protocols are part of every flock

health plan and farm assurance schemes,

but ignoring them puts the health and

productivity of the rest of the flock at risk.

So if in doubt as to whether your quarantine

protocol is adequate, then discuss it with

your vet and revamp the quarantine

procedures for your farm,' recommends


’Not only is it far less costly to prevent

disease than to treat it, but some sheep

diseases are very difficult to eradicate

once they have arrived on-farm.’

The feet of all bought-in sheep should be

inspected for signs of CODD or footrot

Liver fluke infection in sheep is on the increase

across the UK