Preparations for tupping

Planning and preparing well for tupping will go a long way to help ensure you have a successful season.

Every year we perform post mortems on aborted or still born lambs, or those having died just after birth. On investigation it is often found that a fair proportion of these lamb deaths can be attributed to infection of the ewe during mating/pregnancy with Campylobacter or Toxoplasma pathogens and would have been preventable by vaccination.

Toxovax® is a live vaccine used in maiden/naive breeding ewes to prevent losses caused by Toxoplasmosis induced abortion storms, stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Only one vaccination is required and should be given at least four weeks before teasers or  rams are introduced and generally confers lifetime protection. However, if two-tooths were vaccinated as hoggets the previous season, you may want to consider revaccinating this group due to stresses brought about from last summer (such as feed shortages, parasitism, viral pneumonia etc), leading to poor vaccine responses in this age group. Toxovax® has a short shelf life and is made on demand so ensure your order is placed at least four weeks before you need to use it (that is at least eight weeks before tupping!), to ensure supply.

Campyvax4® is a vaccine used in breeding ewes to prevent losses caused by Campylobacteriosis induced abortion storms and neonatal deaths. A sensitiser and booster vaccination should be given four to eight weeks apart. Ideally they should BOTH be given prior to mating or, at a minimum, the sensitiser (this can be given at the same time as Toxovax®) needs to be given beforehand (if needed the booster CAN be given after mating). For farms buying in ewes of unknown vaccination history, or those farms beginning a vaccination programme, a full course (sensitiser and booster) is recommended. An annual booster vaccination thereafter is advised but, if this is not achievable, then aim to booster your two-tooths if they were vaccinated as hoggets and also those ewes on properties in high risk situations, such as following a recent abortion storm.

When it comes to mating ewe hoggets it is crucial these animals are selected early and become a priority stock class. They require preferential feeding to achieve live weights of 40kg or over at the beginning of mating. Other points to note include:

  • Vaccination as outlined above is strongly advised.
  • Monitor for parasitism by way of faecal egg counts and clinical signs, especially for Barbers Pole, and drench appropriately.
  • Use teaser rams from 17 days prior to the introduction of entire rams. This means more hoggets are in their second more fertile cycle at the planned start of mating equating to a higher scanning percentage.
  • Mate them separately to mature ewes using a minimum ratio of 1:80 for adult rams and 1:50 for ram hoggets in easier country in smaller paddocks. Ram hoggets have smaller sperm reserves thereby increased numbers are required.

For further information and/or for help in preparing your flock for tupping don't hesitate to give your vet a call.