Quarantine protocols

Breeding ram sales have kicked off with a number of society premier sales taking place in the last week. This will now move to regional ram sales, while special ewe hogget and ewe lamb sales will now experience a significant increase in activity.

The risk of purchased sheep bringing disease on to the farm will be directly influenced by the quarantine protocol in place and establishing their background history.

The optimum procedure is to quarantine sheep for at least 28 days after arrival.

This includes housing animals for the first 48 hours while treatments are being administered to guard against introducing resistant worm and liver fluke parasites.

Remember that Zolvix or Startect (currently unavailable in Ireland) which are recommended to guard against resistant worms are prescription only medicines that should be ordered from your vet in advance of when they will be required.

Sheep should also be run through a footbath and any signs of lameness should be investigated with contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) a nasty disease which is hard to eradicate from a flock once it becomes established.

The characteristic signs are lesions at the coronary band or where the hoof meets the skin with the hoof wall lifting away in advanced cases.

Plunge dipping is the only treatment that will guard against the full range of external parasites. With regards replacement females, a decision will need to be taken on vaccination for abortion causative agents such as chlamydial or enzootic abortion and toxoplasmosis.

Recording farm-to-farm movements

In addition to higher throughput in mart sales, farm-to-farm movements will also experience a significant spike in activity.

For permanent farm-to-farm movements the obligation to notify the Department of the movement (submission of the pink copy of the dispatch document) lies with the purchaser of the sheep.

Remember sheep traded in farm-to-farm movements must be double tagged with an EID tag set irrespective of if animals will be subsequently destined to be slaughtered.

All tag numbers must also be recorded on the dispatch or accompanied by a tag list. Where sheep are present from different origins, the full tag number including the flock identifier must be recorded.

Synchronised breeding

It is possible that the quality of semen in rams may have been affected by the recent spike in temperatures. The rams experiencing the greatest risk are those which were on an intensive diet and were exposed to peak temperatures.

It is advisable where carrying out synchronised breeding or AI in early lambing flocks to have plenty of ram power available and a plan B in place in case fertility issues arise.

Worm control in dogs

It is also timely to include any dogs on the holding in a worm control programme. Roundworms, which are prevalent in pups, and tapeworms, which are more common in older dogs, are the main threat.

The typical control programme recommended by vets includes worming pups every two weeks until they are 12 weeks of age and then every month until they reach six months of age.

With adult dogs the advice is to administer the appropriate worm treatment approximately every three months throughout adulthood.