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Bruno’s Canine Social Media Network

The sheep camp I’m currently attached to is one of the most forward thinking places I’ve worked on during my short time here on the western range.

I haven’t been privy to some of the more concentrated operations. I have a cousin, Bridgette, who works with people that do intense management so I decided to get on the Canine social media network to see what was happening in her neck of the woods. Her text back to me was that most of the operations in her area do intensive shed lambing.

Bridgette related that their principles are based on preventive medicine. They have a vaccination program tailored to that particular area. They vaccinate for Vibrio (technically called Campylobacter, why these scientists make things so difficult I’ll never know) to prevent abortions. Some outfits in her area use a combination vaccine for Vibrio and Chlamydia (there isn’t a good sheep herder term for this one). I understand these two organisms have totally different incubation periods (Vibrio is seven to 21 days where Chlamydia ranges from 50 to 90 days) so they may not protect for each organism at the same level at the critical periods of gestation. Bridgette mentioned that some do antibiotics in the feed to prevent Chlamydia.

In Bridgette’s area they have sorted their pregnant ewes by ultrasound into those that are going to have singles and those that are having multiples. This helps with being more feed efficient and giving more time to get the twins and triplets going. Her rancher was quite excited about the price he got for his open ewes he took to market.

Now that they have only pregnant ewes to deal with, the ewes are vaccinated with a multi-valiant Clostridia. This provides the lamb with protection via the colostrum. Regardless of being a single or multiple, the navel of each lamb is clipped and dipped in strong iodine prior to going into the jugs. Some outfits try to short cut this process by using a spray bottle. Bridgette text that this method does about as much good as me lifting my leg and watering a thirsty Juniper tree. She says that proper dipping will prevent lots of joint abscesses. The outfit she works with processes their lambs as soon as the navel is dry. They castrate, dock and vaccinate with a multi-strain perfingens plus sore mouth.

They identify lambs with their mother using minimal scourable paint. This helps wool quality. The lambs and mother are removed from the cubicle (jugs) in a couple of days. The cubicle is cleaned, disinfected and bedded with adequate good, bright straw before another guest arrives. Some outfits have good results keeping the ammonia level low by sprinkling the cubicle with Treble Super Phosphate prior to bedding with straw. Bridgette reports that using the phosphate keeps the ammonia level low, which helps prevent pneumonia.

Tuffy’s Facebook entry has his picture. His ears were stripped up from an encoiunter with a coyote,. You could tell that he had been through many experiences. He relayed an experience in his band of ewes that had an outbreak of sore mouth. The scene he told about was absolutely horrifying!

The sore mouth spread from the lamb to the teats of the ewe, which led to mastitis. The mother was in such pain that she wouldn’t allow the lamb to nurse so the lamb started robbing milk from the other ewes. In a week’s time it had spread throughout the entire band of 800 ewes and 1,200 lambs. A Facebook response came in from a Border Collie, working on an outfit in the Land of the Gentle Breezes, reporting that this outfit now vaccinates all of the ewes for sore mouth at the same time they do the booster shot for Clostridials prior to lambing. Tuffy reports this protects the ewe from the possibility of teat lesions preventing mastitis as well as providing passive antibodies to the lamb.

Sore mouth is a mixed bag. Granddad Dog told me once, if ain’t broke don’t fix it.” If you don’t have problems don’t bring it in. Granddad Dog’s final bit of advice: A good shot of quality colostrum in the first hours of life is the best medicine ever manufactured.”

Prepared by Cleon V. Kimberling, DVM

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