This year I seem to have been vaccinating the sheep every other week. I know that is an exaggeration but up until this year there was only 1 pre breeding vaccine which was for Toxoplasmosis and then the pre lambing vaccine for Clostridial plus Pasteurella called Heptavac plus which is given a month before lambing starts. So this year I started pre breeding vaccines with the SBV – Schmallenberg Virus which I wrote a post about.
I made a bit of a timing mistake, after vaccinating for SBV, one needs to leave a few weeks before next session of vaccinations. My mistake was forgetting to order the Toxo vaccine having forgotten it is a live vaccine and is produced to order so must be booked in advance. This has left me with a bit of a delay in putting the rams out with the ewe flock as you need to wait 3 to 4 weeks after vaccinating before the start of breeding. The third pre breeding Vaccine I will be using for the first time this year is for Enzootic abortions and called Enzovax. Both Toxovax and Enzovax are to prevent abortions in sheep and must be given 3-4 weeks before the ewes get introduced to the rams.
So the day before the National Ploughing Championships we set about bringing in all the breeding ewes.
They see the open gate and thinking they are getting some new fresh grass so gallop down across the field.
Little do they know that they are about to be pin cushioned with 2 different vaccines Toxo and Enzo. First I must separate the ewe lambs off from the hoggets and mature ewes as they do not need the injections. I don’t like breeding from ewe lambs, I find sheep last longer in years of production if given a full 18+ months to grow and mature before breeding them.
When all ladies are separated out it is time to mix the vaccines. They come in 2 bottles, 1 big and 1 small and must be mixed. The small bottle which comes in a padded lined plastic white container has the live Toxo in it and the big bottle has the solution you mix in diluting the vaccine so it is in an easily injectable form.
Wearing gloves is a must when working with a live vaccine. I do have the benefit of having had Toxoplasmosis, I caught it from a kitten many years ago when I was working in a North London Veterinary practice. I was very ill for about 10 days, it was like a very bad dose of flu with fevers, aches and exhaustion. Also one uses throw away syringes as you don’t want any residue on reusable equipment.
Like most vaccines the needle must go in just under the skin. So you pinch and pull up and tent a bit of sheep skin, injecting into the tent where the vaccine will do it’s thing. When doing this you must be careful not to go all the way through the skin to the other side wasting the vaccine by injecting into the outside air or wool.
Now the boys will have to wait till middle end of October before ewes are ready to meet them in full after vaccinated health.