I am new to raising sheep, and I've never done any sort of vaccinations with the ones I have. Now that I have a couple of lambs born on my farm, I'm wondering what vaccinations (or other shots/medicine) you guys recommend. I have Katahdin sheep on pasture 24/7/365, rotationally grazing. Your help is appreciated.
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
posted 3 years ago
we dont give our katahdins any vaccinations.
http://www.cloud9farms.com/ - Southern Colorado - Zone 5 (-19*f) - 5300ft elevation - 12in rainfall plus irrigation rights
Dairy cows, "hair" sheep, Kune Kune pigs, chickens, guineas and turkeys
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
I don't vaccinate my hair sheep which are pasture raised with virtually no grain. Their diet doesn't vary. Nor do they leave my farm, nor are they exposed to outside stock. In 12 years I haven't had a problem.
A friend who has hair sheep he raises for market meat does vaccinate for "over eating disease" because he supplements with grain in order to fatten up the lambs. And he buys in other peoples' weanlings to raise in addition to his own lambs. Plus his sheep have access to both alfalfa hay and lush fertilized pastures. He sees a certain amount of problems due to dietary causes. He pushes his lambs pretty hard in order to market fat lamb as early as possible.
I suppose it depends upon one's husbandry methods as to whether vaccination is wise insurance or not.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Vaccination has its benefits. Tetanus, present in most soils, is a horrible death. Depending on your area, there are other things sheep can catch, even in a closed flock. I don't vaccinate anymore, but I do recommend it for beginners. It is also very useful for those who don't interact with their sheep on a daily basis or who have a large flock. There are lots of reasons to vaccinate. In the end, it's up to the choice of the shepheard.
Different vaccines have different schedules. Most of the time, it is recommended to give the annual booster shot to the pregnant ewe so that the antibodies can pass to the lambs via the milk, then vaccinate the lambs once they reach a certain age. Alternatively, one can vaccinate the lambs. Most vaccines need two shots, so many weeks apart. Without that second shot, the vaccine is pretty much useless. Most vaccines also need an annual booster to stay effective.
Which vaccine is right for you? It depends mostly on where you are and what diseases are prevalent in your area. A good vet should know this. It helps to have a sheep guru (or three) who has experience with raising sheep in your area.
If the lambs are for the freezer, a lot of people won't bother with the vaccination. Again, that depends on the shepherd and what the local diseases are.
Why don't I vaccinate anymore? Lots of little reasons but the one that really struck home is that one ewe had a major reaction to a tetanus vaccine. Apparently it can happen. It was pretty darn nasty and I don't want that to happen again. My flock is right outside my window and I check on them several times a day, so I can usually catch any change in behaviour early enough to fix it.