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Vaccination Protocol for Weaning and the Impact of Pulpy Kidney on Livestock Production

Best practice vaccination protocol is one shot at marking and a second shot 4-6 weeks later, which often coincides with weaning. 

The first dose prompts a small localised antibody response which is short lived and for some of the 5 bacterial diseases - black leg, black disease, tetanus, pulpy kidney and malignant oedema, levels do not reach an adequate protection level. It’s not until the second dose is given that the immune system triggers a systemic antibody response that will protect them in the face of a challenge.

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There is a small possibility that the lambs will not come in contact with Clostridial bacteria however often there are unexplained losses happening on farm that can be prevented simply with a 2-dose vaccination protocol. The cost of straight 5in1 vaccine is around 22 cents per head, for lambs fetching $150 each one death would be the equivalent of vaccinating 682 lambs. 

Cheesy Gland

Cheesy Gland causes yellow pus modules anywhere in the sheep’s body where there are lymph nodes e.g. neck, spine, lungs or intestines. Cheesy gland results in reduced weight gains and wool production and occasionally result in death. Abattoir trims will be severe resulting in a loss in yield.  Upgrading from 5in1 to 6in1 to cover for Cheesy gland costs an extra 8 cents per dose but with lambs worth $6/kg the cost of carcass trim from Cheesy gland abscesses can quickly add up.



B12 can also be added into the vaccine. B12 is a derivative of cobalt. Normally the sheep ingests cobalt from the soil and internally converts it to B12. At marking it gives lambs a kick start; B12 produces energy for growth, whether that be meat or wool. Visual comparisons of benefits are hard to see but Zoetis carried out a trial on treated and non-treated lambs vaccinated with B12 at marking and weaning, there was a 0.5 kg difference between groups, other trials in deficient areas show up to 2.8 kg difference.



Another component that is commonly added to clostridial vaccines. In areas classically deficient in selenium, improvements in weight gains, wool growth, fertility and overall immunity can be expected. Care must be taken when administering Selenium supplementations as it can be toxic in high levels, always check to see if the drenches and vaccines contain selenium and avoid using products together that both contain selenium supplementation unless deficiency status is known on your property.

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Pulpy Kidney

Pulpy Kidney is a bacterial disease that occurs when the Clostridium perfringens bacterium, that are normally present in a healthy gut without causing problems, begins to multiply and produce a high level of toxin. The build up occurs when animals are fed high quality low fibre feeds such as Lucerne or lush spring pastures, and deaths commonly occur in fast growing lambs on lush pastures or grain rations. Sick animals are not usually seen, the first symptom of pulpy kidney is commonly a dead animal and the carcass will start to decompose very quickly.


Pulpy Kidney protection from a clostridial vaccine can provide protection for up to 12 months, but where there is a change in diet protection can drop below adequate levels in as little as 3 months and if you are putting lambs onto lush pastures, summer crops high in protein or feeding a high protein ration in containment it is highly recommended to do a booster vaccination 2 weeks prior to introducing them to the new feed.  Older sheep will also need a booster vaccination if there is a change in feed.


Please feel free to consult with your local Western AG animal health specialist today to plan your vaccination program.

Article produced by - Kelly Barnes, Western AG - Hamilton

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