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.
- Bluetongue (prohibited matter)
- Cheesy gland
- Fluorosis in sheep
- Foot and mouth disease (prohibited matter)
- Humpy back
- Ovine brucellosis
- Johne's disease (OJD) (category 1 restricted matter)
- Lumpy wool
- Pregnancy toxaemia and hypocalcaemia
- Rabies (prohibited matter)
- Scabby mouth
- Screw-worm fly (prohibited matter)
- Suppurative arthritis
- Clostridial diseases (e.g. tetanus, blackleg, malignant oedema, pulpy kidney)
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 Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.
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 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 Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888. This national service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Learn about lambing sickness and milk fever in ewes.
- Find out about prevention and treatment of foot abscess in sheep.
- Learn about AUSVETPLAN, a resource that sets out roles, responsibilities and policies for responding to animal disease emergencies.
- Read about the National Johne's Disease Control Program.
- Find out about the potential economic consequences of a foot and mouth disease outbreak in Australia.
- Read foot-and-mouth disease information for livestock owners.