Pre-lamb vaccinating

The importance of pre-lamb vaccinating your ewes 

Lambs are born with very few antibodies and rely on antibodies in the ewe’s colostrum for protection against clostridial diseases including pulpy kidney and tetanus.
Clostridial vaccination of the ewe just prior to lambing is utilised on most New Zealand farms to maximise the level of antibodies lambs receive in their colostrum. The more antibodies they receive, the higher their chances of survival if they face disease challenge (for example from diseases like tetanus or pulpy kidney). It is therefore vital to get pre-lamb vaccination right – both with timing and the level of antibodies produced. For timing it is about stimulating the ewe at the right time, so her antibody levels peak when forming her colostrum. Ideally this is about 2 weeks ahead of lambing but different farms have different management systems and lambing spread varies, so the flexibility to vaccinate earlier can be important.
For antibody levels, it is about ensuring sufficient antibodies are available for transfer into the lamb(s). How much is sufficient can vary depending on whether a ewe has one, two or three lambs suckling and how much disease challenge a lamb may face. The gut of the newborn lamb is best at absorbing these antibodies within the first 12 hours of life, so it is crucial this colostrum is the best quality and volume possible.
So, if it is convenient to vaccinate the flock 2 weeks ahead of lambing, and you have a large number of single bearing ewes, then you may choose a pre-lamb 5 in 1 vaccine like MULTINE®. It gives a really good antibody response and, when used closer to lambing (2–4 weeks), provides protection for the lambs for up to 12 weeks. Multine B12 also contains a dose of vitamin B12, meaning you can supplement the ewe (and her lambs via colostrum) with B12 in a single injection.
However, if your flock has a higher number of multiple-bearing ewes or you vaccinate earlier (for example, to reduce the likelihood of sleepy sickness) or you want longer protection of lambs to reduce losses through until weaning (e.g. from pulpy kidney deaths), then NILVAX® would be a much better choice for your farm.
NILVAX is the specialist pre-lamb vaccine, formulated with a powerful 5 in 1 plus an immune booster — levamisole. Used at pre-lamb, NILVAX boosts the protective antibody levels of ewes, preparing them to produce antibody-rich colostrum available to their lambs. With NILVAX:
- More ewes respond with higher antibody levels than with other 5 in 1 products₁
- Higher antibody levels provide protection for up to 16 weeks, 4 weeks longer than other 5 in 1 products₁
- Vaccination can also happen earlier — from 6 weeks pre-lamb to 2 weeks earlier than other 5 in 1 products₂

Plus, NILVAX can also be suitable as a short-acting, priming drench ahead of pre-lamb capsules or in combination with other long-acting drench products.
Whether NILVAX or MULTINE is the right choice for your farm is up to you. What you can be assured of is they are both developed and manufactured in New Zealand to the highest standard, for local farming challenges.


For further information, contact your Farmlands Technical Field Officer or the friendly team at your local Farmlands store.

1. Pre-lamb vaccination – Comparing Apples with Apples, J R Moffat. Soc. Sheep & Beef Cattle Veterinarians, NZVA 2004.
2. ACVM Approved Label, Nilvax A3977, Multine A0934, Multine B12 A11311.
®Registered Trademark. Schering-Plough Animal Health Ltd. ACVM Registration numbers: A3977, A0934, A11311. Phone: 0800 800 543 NZ/NIL/0418/001.
Article supplied by MSD Coopers