You may have heard about Toxoplasma and Campylobacter. Or you may have heard that you should be vaccinating your sheep to prevent abortion. But should you?
When we talk about abortion in sheep, it doesn’t necessarily mean finding dead lambs in the paddock. Often with Toxo and Campy, ewes abort early and just reabsorb the pregnancy. This means that ewes thought to be pregnant never actually lamb.
These infections and the resulting abortions most often cause problems in young or first-time lambing (maiden) ewes. It is less common to see abortions in older ewes, unless for some reason they have not been exposed to the disease when they were younger.
But is that enough reason to vaccinate? Toxo and Campy are NOT life-threatening infections for your ewes. In fact, although these infections cause abortion, they do not cause obvious sickness in the ewes.
Toxoplasma occurs on 100% of sheep farms, while Campylobacter occurs on approximately 85% of farms. As mentioned above, it is most important to vaccinate young sheep prior to mating. Sheep are only vaccinated once for Toxo, and the smallest vaccination pack covers 100 ewes. Sheep are vaccinated twice (4 weeks apart) for Campy, and the smallest vaccination pack also covers 100 ewes.
So since a Veterinarian cannot split Toxo or Campy packs unless you have enough sheep, or you can share a vaccine pack with your neighbour, it is unlikely that vaccinating your ewes is feasible. If you do want to vaccinate, please ensure you speak to your Veterinarian at least three months before mating to place your vaccine order. And, even if you don’t vaccinate for Toxo and Campy, remember your most important pre-lambing vaccine is 5-in-1.