Article by Zoetis
- The first 100 days of a lamb’s life hold the highest risk of disease and death.
- A proactive animal health program at marking and weaning will optimise weaning percentages and lamb performance.
- The Survive to Thrive 100-Day Plan offers producers a comprehensive and effective strategy to protect lambs and support lifetime productivity.
Article Courtesy of Zoetis
The first 100 days of a lamb’s life hold the highest risk of contracting a range of diseases, which are costing Australian sheep producers more than half a billion dollars in lost production and control measures each year. However, recent research indicates many of these health impacts can be avoided through cost-effective prevention strategies.
Leading animal health company, Zoetis, has developed the comprehensive Survive to Thrive 100-Day Plan, which assists producers to effectively and successfully manage the health of their lambs during this critical period.
The 100-Day Plan delivers a simple and strategic vaccination and drench program, carried out at marking and weaning, which will boost weaner survival rates and set them up for a lifetime of productivity.
Prevention the best option
Research indicates that for a range of priority diseases impacting Australian sheep enterprises, prevention is the most cost-effective and productive option.
A vaccination program at marking and weaning, for diseases such as Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD), cheesy gland, and the five main clostridial diseases – black disease, black leg, malignant oedema, pulpy kidney, and tetanus – offers the basis of a lifetime of immunity.
OJD is estimated to cost Australia’s sheep industry $35 million each year. Infected sheep can shed infective bacteria from as young as eight months of age, while clinical signs of OJD may not be apparent for 2–3 years. Often OJD is not diagnosed until a significant proportion of the flock is already infected and deaths are occurring. Vaccinating lambs with Gudair® at less than 16 weeks of age is a key preventative measure, to substantially reduce the shedding of infective bacteria. A single 1 mL dose of Gudair at marking provides lifelong immunity against OJD.
Effective combination vaccines, such as Glanvac® 6 can prevent disease, boost weaning percentages, improve meat and wool quality, and set the foundation for optimal growth. Glanvac 6 protects against cheesy gland (CLA), and all five priority clostridial diseases with an initial vaccination at marking and a follow-up booster at weaning.
Arthritis is a common problem of lambs, particularly where marking, or any activity that risks damaging the skin, is carried out in wet muddy conditions. Erysipelas arthritis is a common cause of carcase trimming with the average trim of 3kg per arthritic affected carcase costing producers $17.25 per carcase. Stringent hygiene and vaccinating with Eryvac® at marking, with a follow-up booster at weaning will protect lambs against Erysipelas arthritis.
Scabby mouth is an easily-transmitted viral disease that causes scabs and pustules, usually around the mouth and face of affected animals. The disease is most common in lambs and weaners during summer. Animals become infected with scabby mouth when abrasions in the skin allow the virus to enter and establish. One scratch with Scabigard® at marking will control the skin lesions associated with scabby mouth and reduce the risk of costly consequences, including loss of condition, lameness, fly strike, mastitis and death.
Internal parasites (including Barber’s pole worm) pose the greatest animal health cost to Australian sheep producers, at around $436M annually.
Young sheep are most susceptible to the effects of internal parasite infections. If uncontrolled, death rates can approach 100%. Ineffective control, most commonly due to increasing drench resistance, reduces ewe milk production by 22%, liveweight gains by about 15% and wool growth by 10%.
Effective long-term control strategies seek to minimise the impact of parasites but also reduce the rate of development of drench resistance. A strategic drench at weaning with a highly-effective combination drench, such as Startect®, will control worms, reduce larval contamination of pastures for the benefit of the whole flock and can delay the development of resistance to other drench classes.
Producers can achieve additional productivity gains in their 100-day program by incorporating tactical vitamin B12 supplementation.
Vitamin B12 is vital for energy production and growth, with rapidly-growing sheep having the highest demands. Levels in sheep depend on ingestion of cobalt, with cobalt deficiency determined by soil type and pasture maturity and type. Supplementing growing stock with vitamin B12 has been shown to improve weight gain in lambs by up to 2.8kg over 12 weeks. Even in non-deficient cobalt areas B12 has been shown to deliver an additional 0.5kg over 106 days.
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 75 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in 120 countries.
For more information call Zoetis Veterinary Operations on 1800 814 883 or contact your local Zoetis Professional Sales Representative.
 Meat & Livestock Australia Limited. Priority list of endemic diseases for the red meat industries. MLA Final Report. March 2015.
 Glanvac 6 Product Label. https://www.zoetis.com.au/product-class/vaccine-products/glanvac-6-vaccine.aspx (viewed 17 June 2016).
 Farquharson B. Arthritis in Prime Sheep Lambs: A Review. MLA Final Report AWH. 123. 2007.
 Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, National Trade Lamb Indicator at $5.75 per kg ctw, May 2015.
 Scabigard Product Label. https://www.zoetis.com.au/product-class/vaccine-products/scabigard.aspx
 Mavrot, F et al. (2015) Parasites & Vectors, 8:557.
 Leathwick DM, Modelling the benefits of a new class of anthelmintic in combination. Vet Parasitol, 2012; 186: 93-100.
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