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Farmers urged to protect early lambing flocks from Schmallenberg this summer

Sheep farmers are being advised to vaccinate early lambing flocks pre-breeding against Schmallenberg, as cases of the virus rise.

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Sheep farmers advised to protect early lambing flocks from Schmallenberg this summer

As cases Schmallenberg rise, sheep farmers with early lambing flocks are being advised to vaccinate pre-breeding against the virus.

 

While no cases were recorded in 2016,125 cases were confirmed in England, Wales and Scotland in 2017.

 

This year, cases have been reported in Northern Ireland, with the virus shown to be circulating in south west Scotland during autumn last year after samples were monitored by SAC Veterinary Services and Livestock Health Scotland.

 

Early lambing flocks are most at risk as the sensitive period for sheep is in their second month of pregnancy. The risk to the offspring is greatest if they become infected at this stage, explains Zoetis vet Dr Carolyn Hogan.

She said: “Ewes tupped in July will be at risk in August and September and those tupped in August during September and October.

 

“These months fall within the period when midges are active. Ewes which become infected during risk periods are at risk of aborting their offspring, producing stillborn lambs, or lambs with foetal abnormalities.

 

“There are many assumptions that the herd or flock is immune once they have been infected, but without testing, farmers cannot tell which animals are immune and which are not.

 

This year there is limited vaccine available until June 30 so farmers are urged now to secure vaccine to offer protection to their flocks.

 

 

 

 

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