CDT Vaccinations for sheep and goats

Sheep and goats can be vaccinated for many different diseases, but there is only one universally-recommended vaccine, and it is the CDT or overeating and tetanus vaccination.

Enterotoxemia, or overeating disease, is a major cause of death of kids and lambs from shortly after birth through the entire feeding period. It is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium perfringens. It is characterized by acute indigestion, convulsions and other nervous system signs such as colic and sudden death. It commonly affects single kids and lambs, nursing dams that are heavy milkers, and feeder animals that are on high energy diets. With proper feeding, management, and immunization, the disease can be controlled. Tetanus is a common, fatal disease in sheep and goats caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium tetani. Common symptoms are muscle stiffness and spasms, bloat, panic, uncoordinated walking, and/or the inability to eat and drink. It is sometimes referred to as lockjaw. Death is inevitable, usually about three or four days after symptoms appear.

Clostridial diseases are often fatal and strike ruminant livestock suddenly, often causing a mysterious death without any clinical signs. The clostridia bacteria are widespread in the environment. They are normally found in the soil and manure. They are also present in the digestive tract and tissues of healthy animals. For these reasons, vaccination is the best way to prevent disease outbreaks. CDT vaccination helps to protect healthy sheep and goats against Clostridium perfringens type C and D (overeating disease) and Clostridium tetani (tetanus).

Enterotoxemia vaccines are available and are an important aspect of controlling the disease. To prevent the disease in nursing kids and lambs, vaccinate does and ewes at four weeks prior to kidding/lambing. Lambs and kids will receive passive, temporary immunity to overeating disease when they consume colostrum from these vaccinated animals. At about six weeks these kids and lambs will begin to lose the immunity that they received from this colostrum. These kids and lambs should receive their first CDT vaccination by the time they are six to eight weeks of age, followed by a booster three to four weeks later. If the herd or flock has good clostridial protection, kids and lambs should not need the tetanus antitoxin, but many people administer it at the time of docking, castrating, and disbudding to assure protection.

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