Tuesday 3rd January 2017

A deliciously frosty start to the day although temperatures rose quickly and as the 4-acre faces south, by early afternoon the field looked green again. We had been wondering whether we might be able to let the cows out of their woodchip pad but despite a few frosty nights, daytime temperatures are not low enough to keep the ground frozen. During the afternoon feeding rounds, our 2-wheeled trolley was definitely leaving a few tyre tracks in some of the more 'squidgy' ground. It was easy to imagine what a cow hoof or twenty might do...
Relaxed at Home
We have been looking at all the dates in our ‘breeding’ calendar. We start lambing around 6th March, a mere two months away but before then we need to start our vaccination programme!
Deciding to vaccinate your livestock against specific diseases is a personal choice but always one that it is advisable to discuss with your vet. Decisions made need to be based on all sorts of factors including the previous known health history of your animals as well proximity to other stock. We are not keen on any un-necessary medication being injected/ consumed by our animals but we do believe in vaccinations. Some of the potential diseases that we and other livestock owners vaccinate against are quite rare BUT this is in part (and possibly quite a large part) due to the fact that so many people vaccinate their animals and thus keep these diseases at bay! It is important to remember that smallpox was officially declared eradicated in 1980 due do a worldwide vaccination and surveillance programme.
We vaccinate our sheep, goats and alpacas against lamb dysentery, pulpy kidney, struck and tetanus. These are caused by clostridial bacteria which live in the soil. In addition the vaccine we use for the sheep and alpacas protects against a few other clostridial diseases as well as Pasteurella, which can cause pneumonia. Goats are not vaccinated for these extras, simply because their immune systems are not easily able to process vaccines that combine more than 3 or 4 diseases. They can be vaccinated more frequently to help with this but they have a much poorer response rate than sheep and as such our vet recommends that the goats are just vaccinated against the main 4 diseases we identified at the start of this paragraph.
The fact we have several different species on our land that are all susceptible to these diseases is another reason for vaccinating as in theory, (and therefore practice) we run a higher risk of the diseases being spread!
Vaccinations start in a few weeks, the idea being that pregnant animals receive their injections 4-6 weeks before giving birth so that some of the immunity passes to their young. The lambs, kids and crias then get their own vaccinations when they are a few weeks old.
We have not forgotten the cows, they are treated slightly differently so we will discuss them another time.