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Farmer’s Diary: Vaccinating ewes and pre-lambing mineral doses

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Edward Earle discusses vaccinating ewes, pre-lambing mineral doses and Selenium and Vitamin E deficiencies.  

In recent weeks, we vaccinated all ewes with Heptavac P. All the ewes receive 2ml of the vaccine when four weeks pre-lambing.

Heptavac P Plus protects against clostridial diseases. It is crucial for ewes producing colostrum to pass on immunity to the new-born lambs.

Vaccinating ewes four to six weeks before lambing increases the level of protective antibodies in the ewe’s colostrum and these pass to the lambs when it sucks.

This gives the young lambs the protection they need against clostridial disease until we vaccine lambs at three weeks of age. Vaccinating can decrease the number of lambs lost in the first weeks of life.

Having an automatic applicator is a must for vaccinating to get through the ewes in a short as possible period. Before we started vaccinating, we checked the calibration to ensure each shot we administered was of the required rate of 2ml.

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When we were vaccinating ewes, we have found that it is essential to change the needle regularly to avoid causing potential lameness issues from a dirty needle.

Edward Earle, sheep farmer, sheep farming, sheep


We also gave ewes their pre-lambing mineral dose. We have been using Turbo Thrive for the last few years and are very happy with it. This mineral dose is high in selenium and vitamin E: two minerals that play a vital role in the lamb’s health.

We ran all lambs through a footbath when they were out too. Ewes mustn’t be lame come lambing time as a lame ewe will struggle to milk adequately.

Selenium and Vitamin E deficiencies

About four years ago, we had an issue on the farm towards the end of lambing season. New-born lambs did not have the vigour to get up and go.

After doing blood tests, we found we had an issue with selenium and vitamin E levels.  Deficiencies in these minerals can lead to abortions, stillbirth, and weak lambs at birth.

Since we started using a drench with adequate selenium and vitamin E levels, we have seen an improvement in lamb vigour and survival rates at birth.

Further reading

See more of Edward’s diary entries.

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