Managing sheep diseases and disorders

You should ensure you take all available precautions to protect your sheep from disease, including vaccination and looking for any signs that their health has changed.

The following are some of the major diseases that can affect sheep. These include diseases classed as category 1 restricted matter and prohibited matter, which you must report.

Clostridial diseases

The most common clostridial diseases that affect sheep are tetanus, blackleg, malignant oedema (blood poisoning), and pulpy kidney (which affects lambs). In older animals, clostridial infections are most likely to be contracted as a result of injury and bruising associated with fighting (rams), or through infections from contaminated dips at shearing.

Vaccinating for clostridial diseases

To minimise losses from clostridial diseases, consider vaccinating the flock. Treating with a 6-in-1 vaccine will give total protection—against tetanus, blackleg, malignant oedema, pulpy kidney and black disease, as well as cheesy gland—at a very low cost (currently around 20-30 cents per injection).

Your vaccination program requires 2 initial injections, 4 weeks apart, followed up with a booster injection every year. Replacement rams should be brought onto the program as soon as practical after they arrive.

Reportable diseases and signs

Under Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014, you must report suspected category 1 restricted matter and prohibited matter to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or to the Emergency Disease Hotline 1800 675 888.

Notifiable incidents

You must immediately report the following signs of disease:

  • a high percentage of ill or dead animals, including birds and aquatic animals
  • rapid spread of disease through a flock
  • animals that are lame, drooling or salivating excessively
  • animals that have ulcers, erosions or blisters around the feet, muzzle, udder or teats, or in the mouth
  • unusual nervous signs
  • profuse bloody diarrhoea
  • deep smelly, fly struck wounds.

There are no government charges for investigations into suspected category 1 restricted matter and prohibited matter diseases, including negative diagnoses. All reports are treated confidentially.

Prohibited matter

Prohibited matter diseases are not present in Australia, or are present but not established. If these diseases are confirmed as present in Queensland, Biosecurity Queensland will establish a control or eradication program.

Report suspected prohibited matter

If you notice unusual signs of disease, abnormal behaviour or unexpected deaths in your sheep, call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888. This national service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Also consider...