Preparation for Breeding and Lambing





Vaccinations Pretupping: In the commercial flock two main vaccinations are given 1-3 months into the muscle before introducing the ram, 1) for enzootic abortion and 2) for toxoplasmosis abortion. Enzootic abortion is caused by a bacterium, Chlamidophyla abortus and is spread at lambing time in foetal fluids and cleanings.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a protozoa, Toxoplasma Gondii and it is spread via a cycle involving young cats and mice.

I would urge breeders to keep their flocks closed, only introducing new bloodlines/rams when necessary and to only buy from disease free flocks. This therefore negates the need to vaccinate for these two diseases. However if you have experienced an abortion episode in the past I would recommend that you vaccinate for both these diseases.

Worming: All ewes put to the ram should be treated for fluke with an effective flukicide .Presence of fluke lowers the conception rate at tupping, leading to a higher percentage of barren ewes. Also this can be combined with a worm drench, but this is not always deemed necessary as most ewes are immune to the effects of worms. A vitamin or mineral drench can be given or selenium injections/boluses, as this can aid fertility. Also don’t forget the ram.

Condition: Ewes should be fit not fat and that means in a condition score of 3 (were 1 is very thin and 5 is obese). In the last couple of weeks pretupping ewes should be put on a rising plain of nutrition in a field of good grass, this is called “flushing”. Feet should also be attended to, to prevent lame ewes going to the ram, as this will affect fertility. A ewe comes into season approximately every 16 days and as a result a ram should be harnessed or raddled (with a different colour each time) every 14 days so as his progress or lack of it can be monitored.

Rams should ideally have been getting a little concentrate before going to the ewes as they have to work hard and the amount will depend on the age of the ram i.e. the older he is the more he needs. They should be a slightly higher condition score of 4 to maintain energy reserves. Good feet are essential in the ram and again any lameness should be rectified before tupping. If you have any doubts about your rams fertility or if he’s a considerable age it is worthwhile getting a fertility check.

Nutrition and Vaccination prelambing: Next on the agenda once all the ewes have hopefully held is their booster for clostridial diseases and pasteurella pneumonia. This is one vaccination that I regard as vital. Ewes should be given their booster of Heptavac-P plus 4-6 weeks prelambing, 2mls under the skin. This enables enough antibodies to be present in the ewe’s colostrum.

Ewes should be ideally started on a ewe nut 4-6 weeks before lambing, starting on approximately ½ lb rising to 2 lbs at lambing. As result ewes will be hopefully not too fat with oversized lambs, reducing the need for intervention and have adequate quantity and quality of colostrum.

                                                                               Andrew Fletcher BVM&S MRCVS


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