Clostridial Disease in Sheep

Clostridial diseases almost always result in death and may often involve a significant number of animals in a sheep flock.

Clostridial diseases in Sheep

The common diseases are:

Pulpy kidney (PK, enterotoxaemia): Classical signs are sudden death in young lambs that are well fed and growing quickly. Can affect animals at any age, especially when they are grazing high quality pastures (eg flushing ewes, hoggets on spring pastures).

Tetanus: Occurs when tetanus spores enter deep wounds where there is minimal aeration and dead & damaged tissue. Most common after docking. Risk is greater with rubber rings and when the searing iron is not hot enough causing excessive deep tissue damage to allow the tetanus spores to proliferate.

The next 3 diseases are similar in appearance and all fall into the blood poisoning category which is typified by sudden death followed by going off quickly, bloody discharge from nose & bloating.

Blackleg: Usually associated with dirty wounds, grazing muddy winter feed crops, after lambing & using dirty vaccination needles.

Malignant oedema: Lesions very similar to blackleg.

Black disease: Usually associated with liver fluke infection.

Signs and symptoms

Tetanus usually appears 10-14 days after the injury (e.g. docking wounds, shearing wounds). Animals are stiff and go into a rigid spasm if stimulated. They look as if they are smiling due to contraction of the facial muscles. Dead animals look normal.

PK usually only found dead with no outward signs. Post mortem may help, but no vaccination, lambs doing very well & very sudden death are classical.

Blood poisoning usually found dead. “Go off” very quickly. May be gas under the skin.

VetEnt disease landing page 2 VetEnt disease landing page 3 Replacement Pic
VetEnt disease landing page 4
VetEnt disease landing page 9

The impact

All the common clostridial bacteria are almost endemic throughout NZ farms, however the diseases are relatively uncommon due to the widespread use of vaccination. Because vaccination is so effective and has been around for a long time many new generation farmers may never have seen the diseases.

Farmers need to be confident that the disease risk will always be present and that a sound vaccination programme will be stopping the disease from happening. Most of the disease outbreaks are now associated with farmers forgetting to vaccinate.

The cost of a 5-in-1 vaccine is approx 12 cents per dose, or 24 cents to fully protect a lamb. Over 1000 lambs the cost is $240 so the programme only needs to save 3 lambs at $80.

VetEnt disease landing page 11

Management and control

Infected animals usually die soon after infection so prevention is the only choice.

Prevention is by vaccination programme.

There is a wide range of vaccines available which are used in a variety of vaccination programmes:

  • Lambs after weaning
  • Breeding ewes & lambing hoggets
  • Pre-lamb ewe vaccination
  • Lambs at docking

Contact your nearest VetEnt clinic to learn more about the best vaccination programme against Clostridial disease in your flock.

VetEnt disease landing page 6

About VetEnt Group

Enjoy local service backed by nationwide support from NZ's largest vet group with over 75 vets nationwide, giving you more depth of expertise from shared knowledge and technical expertise.
 

Meet your local vet

Meet the team

Match
Name:
Clinic:
Speciality:
Search For
Name

 

I highly recommend VetEnt. They have been there with me for the past 5 years as my business has grown.  They are both proactive and leaders in their field. They are reliable and always go beyond the call of duty with their service

Make an Appointment

For urgent appointments within the next 24 hours, please phone the clinic directly.

{chronoforms}footer-contact{/chronoforms}