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Stackyard News Oct 09

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    Sheep Producers Failing to Capitalise on Vaccine Value

Many sheep producers are failing to capitalise on the efficacy and value of proven vaccines and could significantly improve their control of preventable diseases simply by following product usage instructions correctly.

Vet Anne Gibbs vaccinating sheep

Vet Anne Gibbs vaccinating sheep

An independent pilot study conducted by sheep vet Anne Gibbs from MacArthur, Barstow & Gibbs based in Droitwich, Worcestershire has revealed a worrying level of product misuse amongst producers.

“Despite many sheep farmers using a number of different vaccines to try and control clostridial problems, enzootic abortion, footrot and orf there are still disease problems occurring because of unrealistic expectations and questionable vaccination procedures. The vaccines are good, but to work effectively it is vital that manufacturer usage guidelines are followed,” she says.

Ms Gibbs interviewed over 80 sheep producers at a local livestock market representing flocks as small as 15 ewes up to 3000 plus. Most producers had been farming for more than 30 years.

“There were a number of areas where farmers were not using their vaccines properly, but common errors were failing to complete recommended primary vaccination courses, vaccinating lambs too early, not storing products in the fridge and even re-using part-opened packs that had been on the farm for months. Other issues including failing to change needles frequently enough and injecting sheep in the wrong place.”

Commenting on the study information, Alasdair King from leading vaccine manufacturer Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, found the results worrying. “A tremendous amount of work goes into the development and testing of vaccines and it is important that producers follow the recommendations on the datasheet. Vaccines are an important investment for any farm and if not used correctly there is a high risk that immunity will not develop to a level sufficient to prevent disease occurring,” he says.

As a result of the study, Anne Gibbs now offers her clients strict guidelines to optimise vaccine performance. “Apart from urging them to always read the datasheet carefully and follow product usage protocols correctly, I also tell them to change needles every 50 sheep or more frequently, if possible. Vaccines must also be stored properly and any open leftover vials should be thrown away at the end of the day. If in any doubt, always talk to your prescribing professional.”

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 	Sheep Flock Performance Indicator Introduced  2009-09-03 Sheep producers will now find it easier to highlight areas where flock productivity can be improved, thanks to a practical new management tool developed by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health

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