If you want to bring new sheep into your flock, without bringing any parasites along with them, then follow our quarantine procedure below.
There are a lot of sheep movements at this time of year, new rams are being bought into the flock and store lambs are being purchased for finishing over the winter months.
With all these new arrivals on the farm, having a good quarantine procedure is essential to stop incoming sheep from infecting your existing flock with any new diseases or parasites.
We thought it might be helpful to break down some of the basics to help keep your flock healthy and have focussed on reducing the spread of worms 🪱, foot-rot 🐑, liver fluke 🐌 or sheep scab mites 🪳 as these are some of the most common risks when brining new sheep into the flock.
Incoming sheep should be quarantined, on hardstanding, for the first 48 hours after arrival on the farm.
During this time they should be treated for worms, scab, fluke (if required) and assessed for foot-rot.
After 48 hours, the sheep can be turned out onto a well-used, dedicated field, separate from the rest of the flock. If fluke is a risk, this should a dry field free from mud snails and streams.
After 4-weeks, the incoming sheep can join the existing flock.
Infected animals should be re-treated for fluke.
Step 1 - Quarantine on arrival (48hrs) 🛑
On arrival the incoming sheep should be held on hardstanding for the first 24-48 hours while being assessed and treated for worms, scab, fluke and assessed for foot-rot (and any other ailments).
After 48 hours they can then they can be turned out onto a dedicated area, away from the rest of the flock, until the end of the 4-week quarantine period.
Step 2 - Assess and treat 🧐
An assessment should me made to assess the risks posed by bringing new stock onto your farm to avoid the introduction of unwanted parasites. We have focused on 4 of the most common risks, but this should not be considered an exhaustive list.
The assumption is that all in-coming sheep are carrying parasites resistant to 1-BZ, 2LV and 3ML anthelmintics.
Therefore, to ensure that the new sheep do not bring onto the farm any new strains of resistant worms, they should be treated with two different anthelmintics on arrival, with the gold standard being treatment with both class 4-AD and 5-SI. (This SCOPS guidance provides some good advice on alternative treatment options.)
After treatment, the sheep should be kept on hardstanding for the 24-48 hours after worming. This allows for any eggs that were produced before treatment to pass out in the faeces. (After 24 hours, 90% of the eggs will have passed, 99% after 48 hours.)
When the new stock arrives, check their feet for infectious cuts and lesions. Ideally foot-bathing the sheep twice while in isolation, allowing the product to dry while they are on hardstanding.
Keep a look out for lame sheep, isolating them from the quarantine group and treating with antibiotics (if required) before introducing them back into the group.
The latest advice is that sheep should be assumed as carrying scab unless there is an absolute assurance they are not. Treat with either an OP dip or an injectable group 3-ML formulation.
If you are confident scab is not present then the sheep can be turned out onto pasture (after 48 hours) but keep them separated from the rest of the flock. They should be tested for exposure to scab after 2-weeks (ELISA blood test) treating if necessary.
If liver fluke is a risk, treat with flukicide, and retreat after 6 weeks. In the meantime, try to keep the sheep on dry, well-drained pastures, so any fluke eggs shed by infected animals are prevented from developing.
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Step 3 - Isolation (4-weeks) 😷
Following the initial quarantine period the sheep can now be turned out on pasture for a 4-week isolation period.
This should be a well-used field, contaminated with your own population of worms, and isolated from your existing flock. This is a critical step in slowing the development of anthelmintic resistance as it ensures that any worms which survive treatment are diluted by other susceptible worm already in the pasture/flock.
While in isolation, it is recommended to test the efficacy of the worming treatment with the use of a Facal Egg Count (FEC). Also, if animals have not be treated for scab, an ELISA blood test can be conducted to confirm a negative presence.
If fluke is a risk, the isolation area must also be dry and free from streams and mud snails.
Step 4 - Rejoin the flock 🥳
After 4-weeks in isolation, the incoming sheep can now join the existing flock.
If fluke is a risk, it is important that the infected sheep remain on dry, well-drained pasture until the repeat treatment is administered.
Step 5 - Retreat for Fluke (if required) 🐌
If required, repeat the treatment for fluke. Timing of the repeat treatment will depend on the product used and when the first treatment was administered. It is advisable to test for efficacy after the treatments have been completed.