Today I bite the bullet and injected my flock of ewes with the SBV vaccine which is “Vaccinating for Schmallenberg Virus”. The Schmallenberg Virus is a very resent new virus which is spread by midge bites with an end result of very deformed lambs. This vaccine is very very new and all who use it in effect are guinea pigs seeing if it works of not. But the throw of the dice might work the other way where you have a spring full of dead deformed lambs.
I also had a new toy with which to vaccinate them with. So this morning I read up the directions and put together my new vaccine machine.
I put it together winding down the plunger to the required 2m for the SBV vaccine. I took the SBV out of fridge to warm up to the require 15-25c
Then I went out to bring in the Orchard half of my flock down to the yard. The flock is split at the moment as I am feeding up the skinny ewes and the ones in good nick (condition) are just on grass and apples.
I then bring them into the yard to put them down the shoot for easy access to vaccinate them.
I will only be vaccinating the ewes and hoggets leaving the ewe lambs, as I keep them for a year before putting them in lamb.
So I sort out all the ewe lambs who get to go through the run anyway to have a foot bath.
I then have to put the warmed up SBV vaccine into my new vaccine machine.
The first one through the gates into the run is Pippy.
The SBV vaccine must be given subcutaneously, “beneath the skin”. So when injecting into sheep you pinch a bit of skin (not wool) rising it off the neck and put the needle into the tent like skin structure which you have made by pinching and lifting the skin.
Just like any animal or human they don’t like it but it needs to be done. So they are very glad to be get through the vaccination process and released back out into the field.
While giving the SBV vaccine I also reassess the skinny sheep as some have come into good condition so can be turned out with the other well conditioned ewes. All my sheep are in very good healthy and you can see this by the glossiness of the hair on their faces. Yes I said hair, that is what Zwartbles have on their faces and lower legs while they have wool down their necks and all across their backs. Condition is just a measure of fat they have on them. You don’t want you sheep too fat or to skinny.
I will NOT be vaccinating the rams as I heard too many people had a very bad time with ram fertility and it was thought it was due to the vaccine. Whether this is due to the hot weather or this new vaccine I do not know. The effect of Schmallenberg is seen in the lambs and so far there seems not to be a sperm effect as the spread of the virus is via a midge bite. So lets just say I’m trying to play it safe.