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Start From Scratch With Orf

For flocks with a history of orf problems, vaccination of new-born lambs can easily make the difference between profit and loss.

Characterised by scabby lesions around the nostrils and mouth, orf is a viral condition that can affect lambs and sheep of all ages, sexes and breeds.

Orf is highly contagious which means that it can rapidly infect the whole flock. It is a painful condition in lambs which causes a reluctance to suckle and a reduced suckling in lambs and an increased risk of mastitis in ewes are costly consequences.

Studies in County Durham by Fiona Lovatt from Castle Veterinary Surgeons last season suggest orf can have a measurable effect on both weights and condition of those lambs affected with the disease when compared to their unaffected contemporaries.

This latest study reminds us of the prolonged impact that an outbreak of orf has on a flock, particularly on lamb welfare. Managing an outbreak of orf in an unvaccinated flock means coping with both ewes with mastitis and miserable-looking lambs that may be reluctant to suck as the disease spreads rapidly through the flock.

Since orf is a virus, treatment regimes generally deliver poor results and antibiotics are only effective at treating secondary infections that develop in the site of ulcers.

For flocks struggling with an orf problem, strategic vaccination with ScabivaxTM Forte could make the difference between profit and loss.

Scabivax Forte is a live vaccine for use on farms where orf has been diagnosed. Young lambs can be vaccinated at any time from birth. It is important to scratch the lambs between the top of the foreleg and the chest wall with the scratch applicator - and not to apply the vaccine elsewhere. Seven to 10 days after vaccination, it’s also important to check lambs for scabs at the vaccination site. A row of scabs along the scratched area of skin indicates vaccination has been successful.

If you have never experienced orf you should try and maintain your disease-free status by carefully selecting replacements from known disease-free premises. On the other hand, even if you’ve only seen the odd case of orf in your flock in previous years, vaccination of newborn lambs this spring could easily make the difference between profit and loss.

Quite apart from the obvious animal welfare issue and zoonotic threat, the knock-on financial effects of orf in a crop of new-born lambs means a vaccination programme with Scabivax Forte is easily justified.


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