FARMERS are being urged
to vaccinate their ewes against EAE (Enzootic Abortion of Ewes) before tupping to help prevent unnecessary lamb losses, est-imated to cost the UK sheep industry up to £20 million annually.
The move follows a sheep abortion round table discussion hosted by UK-Vet Livestock, wh-
ich brought together a panel of leading sheep vets and commercial sheep farmers who reviewed EAE and expressed concern about the low uptake of vaccination for both EAE and Toxoplasma spp.
The Responsible Use of Med-icines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) Targets Task Force report of 2017 supported vacc-ination by recommending that farmers increase the use of vaccines for EAE by five per cent per year over five years, to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics, however vaccination for EAE and Toxoplasma spp are low, peaking in 2020 at 50 per cent and 31 per cent respectively for ewes intended for first breeding.
Sheep veterinary consultants Fiona Lovatt and Kate Hovers were amongst the many prest-igious sheep experts on the panel who recommended that all flocks that bring in replacement ewes or have neighbours that lamb sheep should vaccinate to protect against EAE as “vaccination against EAE is like investing in insurance that means that an EAE abortion disaster will not happen”.
The panel further advised that replacements should be sourced from EAE accredited flocks to reduce the risk of bringing in the disease and that ewes should be lambed separately from the home flock for their first year to contain issues.
Furthermore, the panel sug-
gested that vaccination proto-cols for abortion should be incorporated into flock health plans.
Fiona Lovatt, sheep veterinary consultant and director of Flock Health Ltd, commented: “EAE is one disease that costs you a fortune if you just wait until it is in your flock before you take action. You have to consider what the risks are to your flock – and they are high if you ever buy in ewes or if you have close sheep flock neighbours.
“You must vaccinate before you see any evidence of EAE, both to protect your own ewes and the ones you buy in. An outbreak of EAE is a failure of flock health planning as measures should have been put in place to prevent it happening.
“EAE is estimated to cost the UK sheep industry up to £20 million annually, however vaccination uptake is low, which could potentially lead to financial and reproductive devastation,” adds Katherine Timms, ruminant vet-erinary advisor at Ceva Animal Health. “It is therefore essential that vaccination protocols for abortion should be incorporated into flock health plans, especially if a flock has suffered abortion cases during the preceding lambing.”
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