News & Advice

Docking Time

Aug 5, 2021 | Dry stock, Sheep

Tom David, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Raglan

With lambs on the ground many of you will be thinking of getting rid of those pesky tails. 

Remember there is now a requirement for the tail to be longer than the distal end of the tail fold. The intention is that the tail is long enough to cover the vulva in ewes, and a similar length in rams. 


5 in 1 

Docking is the best time to do a first clostridial vaccine (5 in 1). Most studies show clostridial vaccination is easy money. It is a cheap vaccine, but the sooner you get it in the more likely it is to pay for your holiday. 

Docking is one of the key times to have clostridial protection in lambs- tetanus is an obvious risk of docking.



Supplementation of the ewe pre-lamb does not provide the lamb with adequate stores when there is a deficiency on property.  

Direct supplementation of the lamb is thus required where deficiencies exist. It is best to start supplementation at docking, usually proceeding monthly.  This will help to maximize weaning weights, which has obvious positive flow on effects for the whole farm system.  


Options for B12 administration at docking

B12 can be easily given at docking as part of the 5 in 1 vaccine (Ultravac 5 in 1 +B12). 

It is significantly cheaper to use a plain 5 in 1 (e.g., Ultravac 5 in 1) with a separate short acting b12 injection (e.g., prolaject 1000). However, this obviously requires 2 injections. 

The most expensive but most effective option is to use a long acting b12 injection such as Smart Shot B12 as well as 5 in 1. This product can provide either 3 or 6 months of B12 supplementation dependent on the dose given. 

An estimate of the cost of B12 supplementation (at full price, for comparison only) is below. It shows: 

  • Cheapest way of B12 supplementation is likely to be by using monthly Prolaject 1000 on top of your clostridial programme. This requires the most injections, so cost would likely be closer to the others if labour were worked into the cost. 
  • Separate clostridial vaccination + Smartshot long acting B12 is priced competitively when compared with Clostridial vaccination including B12. Smartshot can be dosed to last up to 6 months- thus saving multiple injections where supplementation is carried out monthly. Its obvious application is replacement ewe lambs.



Lambs should not need a drench at docking time. Studies have shown this practice is unlikely to lead to weight gains and puts unnecessary stress on drench in terms of resistance. 

Routine drenching should not begin until weaning time in most cases.



Share This