Sheep

Whether you are a small scale or large scale sheep farmer, we can help you with many aspects of your business.

Services we provide are:

  • Flock Health Visits
  • Ram Fertility
  • Ram vasectomies

Please see below for further information on each of these topics

Lameness

Lameness costs the farmer an average of £9-10 per ewe. The causes of lameness are often confused and so the correct diagnosis is important.  This will in turn help save you time and money. A routine protocol for treating lameness as part of your flock managment is an aspect we can help you with.

Toxoplasmosis & Enzootic Abortion (EAE)

Do you suffer from losses at late stage pregnancy, barrenness, abortions, stillbirths and weak lambs? If you are unsure whether or not to vaccinate, barren or aborted ewes can be blood sampled to check for disease.  Please contact the practice for further information.

Worming/Scab/Orf

When you buy in sheep or return them from grazing they may well be carrying unseen parasites. This is where bio-security and quarantine are essential.

All sheep coming onto your holding should be quarantine drenched. They should be treated for worms, scab and if indicated, fluke. They should be drenched at the right dose (split into weight groups) and kept off grass for 24-48hours. Check your dosing gun is working properly and calibrated correctly. Make sure you use the right technique. Take faecal samples from a representative sample of the rest of your flock to find which drenches are working effectively for you. If you treat your flock correctly you will improve productivity and reduce and manage resistance build up. Check out the SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) website or call the office for information and advice.

Sheep carrying the scab mite may show no clinical signs and if not treated when quarantined will pass it onto the rest of the flock. It is also important that your treated animals are kept away from neighbouring flocks that may not have been treated. Treated sheep should be quarantined for at least three weeks in order to break the life cycle of the mite.

If your sheep are scratching and therefore irritated and unhappy they will not graze thus not be productive!

Orf is a highly contagious disease and can be a major problem if not prevented/treated at an early stage. Humans can catch it too! Symptons range from blisters on lips and corners of mouth to ulcers and in severe cases the vesicles form on the insides of the mouth and throat and can spread to the teats, legs, tail and vulva. The virus persists in buildings, troughs, handling equipment and thistles! Therefore hygiene and good pasture management are paramount. Please call for advice on treatment and vaccination.

Flock Health Visits

Having a healthy flock will indeed increase your productivity and should reduce your costs (feed labour, medication etc)  An annual visit (or more) can cover all aspects of the sheep year so the time of year can be altered to suit you although pre-tupping works well for most people.  We will work with you to achieve your targets for the flock and so visits will be guided by what you would like to address.  Previous records can be useful to look at to decide objectively where improvements might be possible.  The main areas that most farmers find useful to cover include: Infectious Disease Control    

  • Developing flock specific plans for abortion control, including blood testing for barren/aborted ewes where appropriate.
  • Which vaccines to use and when for your ewes and lambs
  • Biosecurity, particularly with respect to bought in stock

Worm control A worm control strategy specific to your flock that is effective and works to prevent the development of resistance, thereby safeguarding the flocks’ future Ram Fertility Includes examination of external genitalia and microscopic examination of semen.  All too often, an infertile or sub-fertile ram is discovered when it’s too late leading to very costly losses. Pre lambing ewe nutrition Assessed by body condition score and blood sampling and is best done six weeks pre-lambing.  If ewes are receiving too much/too little energy this is the time to alter their diet to prevent problems like twin lamb disease and the birth of weak lambs. What’s involved?  Contact the practice to arrange a Flock Health visit.  The minimum we would recommend is once a year.  Have your sheep and rams ready for examination where appropriate and have your records available.

Ram Fertility

Achieving a good pregnancy rate is only possible with healthy and fertile rams. Highly fertile rams improve the overall reproductive efficiency of the flock by producing more viable lambs in a shorter period of time. It is thought that 10% of breeding rams are infertile and that at least 20% are sub-fertile. Such rams can have a dramatic effect on flock performance and profitability with high barren rates (target<5%), low lambing percentages and protracted lambing periods. Breeding soundness exams should be carried out annually and at least 10 weeks before tupping. It consists of a thorough physical examination with emphasis on the reproductive system. Considerations;

  • General physical exam, looking especially at conformation and dentition
  • Scrotal exam and measurement of testes
  • Examination of prepuce and penis
  • If necessary, examination of semen collected by electro-ejaculation

Assessment of your ram’s fertility allows his breeding potential to be used to its maximum. Breeding soundness exams can be carried out on farm or at the practice. Ram Vasectomies A vasectomised (teaser) ram can be used to bring your ewes into season before your tups go out. Not only does this enhance fertility it can also be a great way of tightening your lambing period. Once a ram is vasectomised he should not be used for at least 8 weeks as he may still be fertile. Vasectomies can be performed on farm or at the practice.

Export

We can complete the relevant health certificate papers that accompany animals for export. Firstly you must apply to AHVLA (Defra) Specialist Service Centre for Exports at Carlisle or via the Animal Health Website. Please allow enough time for your application to be processed and the relevant paperwork to supplied to ourselves.