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Some sheep need docking if they are to remain healthy. This is because in the hot weather flies (eg. the bluebottle) can lay their eggs around the fleece/tail area, and when the maggots hatch they start to eat the sheep. This doesn't seem to affect mountain sheep so much, but definitely lowland breeds should be docked. To find out if your sheep has been struck, look for eggs around the shoulders and back (caused by birds). The sheep can be restless, wagging its tail, rubbing and biting. This needs attention immediately. To prevent the flies/parasites, clip the wool around the sheep's tails in late spring, and remove the soiled wool - don't do this in the cold weather as it might give them a chill. If they are very dirty around the tails, they may need worming. information from "An Introduction to keeping sheep" - Jane Upton & Dennis Soden Top of page Multiple Vaccines Multi-vaccines, 8 in one or 7 in one, are essential for sheep health. These are used to prevent clostridial, mainly soil-borne diseases. When buying sheep, ascertain if they are in 'the system', and have had routine vaccinations. If you are at all doubtful, start again from scratch; no harm will be done if the vaccines have already been given.

Each sheep receives the amount stated on the package, usually 2ml, followed by a booster from four to six weeks later. That is vital, otherwise the first injection is ineffective. Thereafter, an injection once or twice a year is sufficient. There is a time lapse of some fourteen days between vaccination and the development of significant levels of immunity. Lambs whose dams have been properly vaccinated receive protection through the ewe's milk for the first four to six weeks of life. Then they are given a single injection, which suffices till autumn. The diseases covered are: 1. Pulpy kidney, which attacks thriving lambs. They are found dead; there is no second chance. 2. Braxy, associated with hoar frosts on autumn mornings, and again giving no warning. 3. Blackleg 4. Lamb dysentry, a heart-breaking condition to which lambs a few days old succumb, after being born perfectly healthy. 5. Tetanus (sheep found dead). 6. Entero toxaemia. 7. Black disease. 8. Bacillary haemoglobinuria. Top of page Stomach Worm Control The other major health programme, more flexible than vaccinating, is control of stomach worms. 'A sheep's worst enemy is another sheep' refers chiefly to the rapid spread of intestinal worms. Though 'clean grazing', using ground not grazed by sheep in the previous year, is the ideal, it is seldom practical on the small farm. Properly used modern anthelmintics enable heavy sheep stocking to continue.

The more intensive the system, the more dosing will be needed. On an extensive hill, dosing in autumn may suffice. In most grassland systems, the ewes are dosed in autumn before tupping, and again in mid-pregnancy or just before lambing. There is much evidence to support worming ewes six weeks before lambing. Lambs are dosed as necessary. Once a month is standard on some well-run holdings. Others watch carefully and dose only if dirty tails appear.

Ring the changes on the different brands. Some are more effective against a particular type of round worm, at a particular stage, than a few days. Specific anti-nematodirus wormers are now available. Worms multiply rapidly, especially in hot, humid weather, and the shepherd must be on guard with a close check on every lamb every day during the growing season. That sounds like a lot of work; it isn't really, once confidence is built up, and you can tell a healthy sheep at a glance. Top of page Sheep dipping Sheep dipping is essential, not just because of parasites, but also because of sheep scab. In England, it's illegal not to treat sheep scab, so you must make sure to dip your sheep, and avoid them getting this disease in the first place! (See this clipping from "This is North Devon" online)