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Sheep

Health and Biosecurity

Are you introducing sheep or goats?

There are many diseases that can be introduced "on the back of a truck" with introduced stock. Before introducing stock, you should make enquiries as to their suitability for your needs. You should:
  • get a National Vendor Declaration (NVD) for sheep and goats.
  • ask for a National Sheep or Goat Health Statement. These provide information on the flock's history of diseases including Johne's disease, footrot, lice, brucellosis, and CAE in goats as well as drenching and vaccination history.
  • ensure sheep and goats are identified with a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) device.
  • transfer stock on the NLIS database if purchased directly from another producer. If purchased through a saleyard, they will do this transfer for you.

Introduced stock should be isolated from the rest of the flock for a period of 7-10 days. During this time, they should be monitored for signs of disease. This time is also an opportunity to give any vaccinations and drenches that may be required and allows for weed seeds that may be carried in the gut of introduced animals to pass.

Drench resistance is a significant problem in sheep and goats and resistant worm populations can be brought onto your property with introduced animals. To combat the risk of buying in resistant worms, you should use a quarantine drench with at least 4 unrelated active drench groups. Barber's Pole worm is the number one killer of sheep and goats in the region.

If you see something unusual, contact the 24 hour emergency animal disease hotline on 1800 675 888.

Movement requirements

Under law, there are movement requirements for sheep and goats moving both into and within NSW. These cover identification, disease and documentation. Contact the Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GS LLS) office in Camden or download more information from the Department of Primary Industries at the links below:

Poisonous plants

Greater Sydney is home to many plant species that are toxic to stock and you should be aware of what potentially poisonous plants exist on your property. The types of plants that are toxic to sheep and goats tend to differ from cattle. They have different grazing habits and, in some cases, are more resistant to toxic plants (e.g. sheep and goats are often used to control fireweed as they are less susceptible to its toxin). Two of the more common toxic plants responsible for poisonings in sheep and goats that we see in the Greater Sydney region are:

  • Green cestrum (Cestrum parqui)
  • Poison peach (Trema tomentosa var. viridi)

Vaccinations

Prevention is often much better than treatment. There are many vaccines available for sheep. Diseases preventable by vaccination include:

  • Enterotoxaemia (pulpy kidney) - can cause deaths in sheep and goats, particularly if on lush or supplementary feed. Prevention is by 5 in 1 vaccination, according to manufacturer's instructions. In high-risk situations (common in Greater Sydney), boosters should be given every 6 months.
  • Tetanus - infection occurs through penetrating wounds. The 5 in 1 program for pulpy kidney is more than adequate for tetanus protection
  • Caseous Lymphadenitis (CLA or cheesy gland) - a common abscess in both sheep and goats. Prevention is by 3 in 1 or 6 in 1 (also covers tetanus and pulpy kidney). Note that goats can have severe adverse reactions to 3 in 1 and 6 in 1 and therefore these vaccines should be used with caution. Be sure to use vaccines that are registered for use in goats.

Selling stock

All sheep and goats leaving your property must be identified with an NLIS device and you should complete a NVD and National Sheep or Goat Health Statement. If stock in the consignment have been treated or exposed to chemicals and are still within the withholding period, this information must be declared on the NVD. 

Stock feed

In Australia, it is illegal to feed animal material such as meat and bone meal, fish meal and feather meal to ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats or deer). This ban is to help prevent mad cow disease. Ensure that products containing restricted animal material (such as pig and poultry feed) are not fed to ruminants.

Click here to download the above information as a printable brochure.

Industry

The varied conditions in NSW affect the sheep industry in a similar way to their effect on other livestock industries in the state. To accommodate varying markets, sheep producers have adopted a range of different productions systems.

Sheep producers face many challenges when managing their livestock. Genetics play a huge role in the successful breeding of sheep.

Lambing in drought years is certainly a challenge. Ewes often reach lambing in low fat score conditions, and while they are often fed large quantities of supplements, they still fail to produce sufficient milk to achieve good lamb growth. These can be very problematic and survival rates can be compromised.

Flooding can also be incredibly difficult to manage. Mustering to higher ground is far easier in dry conditions, so sheep really need to be moved as early as possible.

How Local Land Services can help

Local Land Services (LLS) will work in partnership with farmers and farming groups to provide support, advice and best practise examples to increase productivity and profitability.

LLS work closely with organisations such as the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to provide up to date technical advice and support.

More specifically, LLS will collaborate with DPI to implement strategic plans such as the NSW Animal Biosecurity and  Welfare Strategic Plan 2013-2015. The aim of this plan is to safeguard the economy, environment and community from diseases and pests that affect animals as well as improve animal welfare outcomes.

We focus on solving local challenges and creating opportunities for farmers. LLS livestock officers will coordinate local producer groups and hold field days on timely and locally relevant topics including animal husbandry, pasture management, disease management and drought preparedness.

Training and courses

LLS experts are pivotal in the delivery of education programs such as the PROfarm range of short  courses, including Sheep care and husbandry, and Wean more lambs.

Advice and assistance

Call 1300 795 299 for assistance from your Local Land Services region.