Now is the time to start doing the procedures outlined in your flock health plan as this year’s purchases arrive.
Prevention is the name of the game, with at least 14 diseases that can be bought in with new sheep, from virulent footrot, to scab, to drench-resistant fluke, so don’t just drop the tailboard of your trailer the evening of the tups sales and let your new purchases into the field to mix with other sheep.
Firstly, an avermectin injection will treat against worms and scab.
This should be combined with a class IV or V wormer (zolvix or stardect) to ensure no resistant worms are brought into the farm.
With worm resistance present on most farms, it is important to ensure accurate dosing based on lamb weights and gun calibration.
Ideally, the new sheep should then be kept inside for 48 hours to allow the drench-resistant worm eggs to stop coming through.
Sure Ram scheme tups at Kelso tup sales have already had this done, which is great and should be supported until it becomes the norm.
Liver fluke infestations are on the increase and can significantly affect growth rates.
A fluke treatment targeting both immature and mature fluke stages may be of benefit.
However, it is also important to not bring on triclabendazole-resistant flukes, so a dose of Flukiver immediately and repeated in six weeks will stop it.
Pasturellosis can have devastating consequences on morbidity and mortality and is a particular problem in autumn and winter. If in any doubt, re-start a vaccination with two doses of Heptavac P four, six weeks apart. Spending £1 now could save a £500 tup’s life.
When you are choosing your new tups, as well as looking at his EBVs, also ask about the health status. It may be that the breeder is MV-accredited. What about their CLA Johnes or border disease status?
Once all the doses and jags are into him, keep him separate from other sheep for three weeks to make sure any scab mites are killed and also to give time for any incubating conditions, such as CODD, to surface and be treated before they spread to the rest of your sheep.
There may be other quarantine protocols specific to your farm. Speak to your vet if you are unsure. Remember, it is always better to treat the few now rather than later on treating the many.