Quarantine measures to protect your flock’s productivity

May 14, 2021

We’re encouraging clients who are looking to buy new stock for the coming breeding season to take a little time to think about protecting the sheep you already have on farm with straightforward sheep biosecurity measures. Quarantining new sheep, as well as any of your own animals that are returning from time away from farm, will minimise the risk of introducing diseases that will negatively impact productivity.

In an ideal world, sourcing stock from accredited or monitored free flocks, listed on www.psghs.co.uk (with known MV, enzootic abortion and Johne’s status) will provide re-assurance that these diseases will not be an added extra with any purchase. However, where accredited stock is not an option, there are a few things you can do to identify issues before the new stock are mixed with existing flocks.

  1. A hands-on examination of stock prior to purchase, or at the very least as soon as they arrive on farm, can help identify issues before mixing with your own stock.
  2. When purchased sheep arrive on farm, they should spend the first 24 – 48 hrs in quarantine. That basically means in a clean yard with access to plentiful fresh feed and water. This ensures worm eggs already present in the faeces, which will not be targeted by anthelmintic treatment, do not contaminate pasture.
  3. A period of quarantine also allows checks to be made for ORF, pink eye, CODD, foot rot, and CLA. If we find anything amiss, then appropriate treatment or further testing can be implemented.
  4. Quarantined stock should be treated to remove any resistant gut worms. Using one of the novel wormers, Startect or Zolvix will maximise effectiveness of this treatment.
  5. Stock can then be turned out onto previously grazed pasture, diluting any resistant worm eggs that have survived treatment and ensuring these resistant eggs do not become the dominant species on the pasture. New stock should still remain isolated from the main flock at this point.

Protecting flocks against a scab outbreak
Purchased stock are the main source of scab outbreaks in existing flocks. The good news is that we have access to a blood test, which can identify this disease prior to clinical signs emerging. To get the best results from this test we recommend that new stock should have been on your farm for a minimum of 2 weeks prior to testing. At that point 12 of the new arrivals should be tested. If small numbers or individuals have been purchased, then treating for scab may be more economic than testing. If this applies to you, please contact us on 01327 350239 for advice.

Managing fluke risk & vaccinations
Fluke risks will vary hugely depending on where you purchased your stock from and the situation on your farm. There are many different treatments for fluke, but they do need to be used correctly to get maximum effect. Depending upon the individual risk factors both on and outside your farm, isolation may need to last from 3-6 weeks.

Regular flock health checks are the best time to discuss quarantine protocols as this gives time for purchases to be planned and managed to reduce risks.
Finally, don’t forget to make sure all vaccinations are up to date and, if you can, do avoid having animals with different health status mix at breeding and lambing times.

To book a regular flock health check or to get advice and help for new arrivals, please contact us on 01327 350239 or drop us an email and one of the farm team will be in touch directly.

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