Hygiene at Sheep Farm and Goat Farming – Safeguarding Health and more:
Good husbandry is the key to success, and good hygiene is an integral part of good husbandry. This must start pre-lambing or kidding, to prepare the dams, and their environment, so that the progeny have the best and safest possible start in life.
Sheep and goats are never more vulnerable than at lambing or kidding. There is often a high mortality at this time, particularly of the progeny. While some of these deaths are inevitable, many can be avoided.
Because lambs and kids are born with no natural immunity to disease, their only immediate protection will be through the colostrum taken from the dam immediately after birth. To pass on protection the dam must have antibodies to the life threatening diseases in her own blood stream, so it is essential that they are vaccinated in good time before birth, to ensure the progeny’s protection.
It is also important to ensure that, particularly in the last third of pregnancy, good quality nutrition is available to the dam, including additional mineral supplements if required.
Preparing the environment for the birthing dam is the next vital step. The housing used must be dry, well ventilated and draught-free. Disinfection of the birthing area must be regarded as of prime, and continuing, importance.
Remove any bedding or material from the previous year. Straw bales can be useful here, since these can be taken out and burned at the end of session destroying any lingering infection.
The empty pens, both floors and walls, should be pressure washed with Quat-Garddiluted at 1:500. It is vital that the birthing area is absolutely clean so immediately prior to the arrival of the dams treat the house with a broad spectrum disinfectant, use Farm-Gard diluted at 1:100, allowing it to dry before moving the dams in.
Plan the housing so that sick dams and progeny can be kept apart from the healthy stock, to avoid the dangers of infection. Bought-in dams should also be kept apart and birthed separately to avoid cross-infection.
The stockman’s hygiene is also of importance. Infection can be spread from animal to animal if hygiene procedures are not scrupulously observed. When examining dams or progeny, hands should be thoroughly cleaned before and afterwards, using bactericidal hand soap
Clean boots and overalls should be worn, and sick animals tended last, to prevent carrying infection to healthy animals.
Some diseases, for example salmonellae infections, are transmissible to man, and can be extremely serious. Attention to detail in hygiene matters is all important – a particular threat to guard against is the possibility of infection when dealing with scouring progeny.
The newborn is a prey to a host of infections because of its lack of natural immunity, so it is vital that it receives adequate colostrum within the first few hours of birth. During the time the dams have been housed prior to birthing, a bacterial build-up will have occurred. It is essential that this is controlled, or the progeny will succumb to diseases such as watery mouth, joint and navel ill, dysentery, salmonellae and E. coliinfections.
Disinfection while birthing is going on is not easy, however, a broad spectrum virucidal bactericide such as Viru-Gardis safe to use as a spray to disinfect the building without removing the animals. It can be used several times daily during birthing. Also muck out pens frequently, and replenish with plentiful fresh bedding – this will keep the progeny clean, warm and dry. Ensure the bedding material is not damp, dusty or mouldy.
Viru-Gard can also be used to keep birthing equipment clean and disinfected. Do not overlook disinfecting water troughs and bowls regularly, as well as teats and milk dispensers.
Progeny losses are not wholly unavoidable. By following a sensible and rigorous hygiene and husbandry program, the farmer can minimise his losses, and maximise his profit potential.