There are a range of things that can cause illnesses in sheep, including:

  1. Viral and rickettsial diseases
  2. Bacterial infections
  3. Metabolic issues (disorders in the body function)
  4. Protozoal infections
  5. Poisoning (More common problems involve taking in excessive urea or copper; phosphorus, arsenic & salt poisoning; and plant poisoning).
  6. Parasitic Problems

Good management can go a long way to preventing disease on the sheep farm. As with all other classes of farm livestock, a good sheep manager pays attention to detail, is acutely observant, makes accurate records and has the necessary knowledge and skill to judge his animals' health. Sound management is not necessarily sophisticated but based on common sense.

This can be seen by the following simple management points that help to prevent disease:

  • Make sure that sheep which are housed at night have enough hay or other fodder to compensate for the loss of grazing.
  • Provide sheep with clean water. Dirty watering points are a source of worm infestation.
  • Provide sheep with trace element licks. Sheep are particularly sensitive to mineral deficiencies.
  • Provide a high standard of nutrition for the lactating ewe, who is having to provide a lot of milk for her fast growing lamb.
  • Cull old ewes and poor milkers to allow you to concentrate on the productive animals.
  • Castrate and dock in late afternoon as wounds heal more quickly in the cool of the evening when flies are less of a problem.
  • Treat disease as soon as it appears. Attend to lame sheep immediately.
  • Don't house wool sheep in closed sheds as they are likely to get pneumonia.
  • Don't loose sheep from diseases which could normally be prevented - INOCULATION SAVES MONEY.
  • Don't drench sheep without reading the instructions on the container. Worm remedies are potentially dangerous and can be fatal if you overdose.

Vaccinations
Inoculation should be carried out only for those diseases which occur locally and after consultation with the local Veterinary Officer. Whenever sheep are kept intensively, the concentration of disease-causing organisms increases dramatically. Unless a program of vaccination is carried out, tremendous losses can occur. The diseases in the block are the ones that are commonly vaccinated against in accordance with veterinary regulations. As diseases can come off or on to this list at short notice, it is the sheep farmer's responsibility to make sure his flock is adequately protected. A short chat with your local Veterinary Officer from time to time will help in this respect.
Vaccinations are often recommended against Pulpy Kidney, Brucellosis, Black Leg, Scabby Mouth and Tetanus

First Aid
A sheep farmer should always have certain medicines on hand for emergencies and supportive treatment. The following will provide a useful reserve but please be aware that, because of differing regulations between countries, not all of the drugs will be available to you. Use the list as a starting point only as it is not meant to be definitive:

  •     Digital thermometer
  •     Crepe Bandages
  •     Long-acting penicillin
  •     Blunt ended scissors
  •     Hoof trimmers
  •     Livestock crayon (for marking animals already treated)
  •     Liquamycin LA 200 (For upper respiratory problems)
  •     Coopermycin L. A. (treatment of tick-borne diseases)
  •     Sulphjamexathine 16% (coccidiosis in lambs)
  •     Zinc Sulphate (post dipping lameness and control of lumpy wool)
  •     Wound Oil (for external injuries)
  •     Antiseptics/Disinfectants (for external injuries)
  •     Eye Powder (treatment of infected eye)
  •     Vinegar (for accidental urea poisoning)
  •     Terramycin eye ointment
  •     Injectable vitamin A & D for newborns
  •     Vitamin B complex
  •     Clostridium Perfringens Types C & D Tetanus Toxoid (i.e. CDT or Covexin 8)
  •     Range of syringes and needles
  •     “Probios Paste” or similar remedy (for rumen problems)
  •     Suitable worm treatment
  •     Lamb replacer milk/teats/bottles
  •     Electrolytes
  •     Tincture of 7% iodine
  •     A styptic powder to stop bleeding (esp. where horn injury occurs)