Know where the sheep are coming from and their health status. It’s important to know the health status of the source flock. You can get this information by requesting a National Sheep Health Declaration (NSHD) before purchasing the stock. In South Australia all sellers must provide a NSHD. Consider disease risks including virulent footrot and parasite burdens like lice. If in doubt, ask a vet to help determine the risk the sheep could pose to your enterprise.
Purchasing Gudair vaccinated sheep. If Johne’s disease (JD) is considered a risk, purchasing approved vaccinate sheep will help reduce the risk of potential shedding. Older sheep typically shed JD more than younger sheep, so this is a more important for consideration when buying adult sheep to eat down stubbles. Approved vaccinates should have a “V” on their NLIS tag.
Follow a plan for bringing them onto your farm that protects your business. A quarantine drench is always a good idea, even for trade sheep. A quarantine drench should contain several active ingredients known to be effective in your region, ensure sheep have enough time to empty out (24hrs) before putting them into a new paddock/pen and where practical WormTest 10-14 days later. WormBoss has a great practical article on quarantine drenches: Quarantine drenching – getting it right! (wormboss.com.au)
Keep your trade sheep separate from home mobs. Regardless of whether you have any disease concerns with a newly purchased in consignment or not, it is always good practice to keep different mobs separate. Before purchasing stock consider your feedlot capacity or feed on off (FOO) in stubbles. Wherever possible, limit comingling of trade consignments and home-mobs.
Remember to always work trade sheep in yards after your home-mobs and allow enough spelling time between mobs that are worked in the same area. This will help to reduce the risk of accidental cross contamination. How long do you spell yards? That depends on the disease of concern and the environmental conditions. It is best to ask your local vet for specific disease spread management recommendations.
Check your fences. It is essential that paddocks and pens holding trade sheep are stock-tight so that no accidental stray sheep mix with home-mobs.
Keep up-to-date records. Ensure that you receive an NVD with all consignments and record the oncoming consignment on the NLIS database as required by your LPA accreditation and state legislation. It is also a good idea to record all paddock movements and husbandry procedures you do with your trade sheep.
Clean and disinfect high contact areas between mobs. If operating in an all-in-all-out feedlot system, or even if you’re moving a trade mob out of a stubble paddock, spending 10 minutes cleaning and disinfecting lick feeders, hay racks and water troughs can help ensure pathogens don’t remain in the environment.