The Basics of Vaccinating Sheep and Goats

Rachel L. Gibbs, Graduate Student, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Department of Animal Science
Dustin T. Yates, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Department of Animal Science
(Previously published online with Nebraska Extension: G2339 · Index: Animal Agriculture, Sheep: January, 2022)

Developing a vaccination program that improves animals’ immunity for common diseases will increase the health, productivity, and value of sheep flocks and goat herds.

Like all livestock, sheep and goats are susceptible to a number of different infectious diseases. Although the risk of an outbreak for any specific disease depends on the time of year, age and location of the herd/flock, and nature of the production system, it is fair to assume that livestock are at constant risk from one or more diseases throughout their lifespan. Thus, developing and implementing a sound vaccination program that best fits their situation and with input from their local veterinarian allows producers to better manage herd/flock health by helping to prevent large outbreaks of infectious diseases that are often expensive and difficult to control. This NebGuide provides producers with fundamental information summarized from extensive research efforts about sheep and goat vaccines, as well as the diseases they help prevent. There is broad variability in production schemes throughout Nebraska, and this article is meant to serve as a reference for developing vaccination programs that are best suited for specific schemes. For more information regarding how vaccines work and the type of immunity they provide, please refer to Understanding Vaccines (G1445) at In addition, local veterinarians can provide guidance for choosing vaccines that are best suited for specific production systems.

When developing a vaccination program, it is essential to consider the questions “which vaccine(s)?,” “which animals?,” and “when?” The answers to these questions are often related to the stage of production. As illustrated in Figure 1, traditional programs typically include vaccinations at three main time points: (1) prior to breeding; (2) prior to or at the time of lambing/kidding; and (3) at weaning (in offspring). Young animals and first-time breeders may require additional doses of certain vaccines for maximum protection. When this is the case, such information will be explicit on the vaccine label.

Figure 1. The three main time points at which vaccines are delivered in typical sheep and goat vaccination programs.

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Three Common Genetic Defects to Review when Buying or Selling Sheep

Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK) Communications Committee – Roxanne Newton
(Previously published online with EAPK: June 7, 2024)

It’s important for buyers and sellers to be aware of a few of the more common genetic defects so that only the best quality animals are consigned and sold. It is the responsibility of sellers to consign high quality animals that are free from defects. Ask your veterinarian to perform a screening exam before consigning the animal if you are unsure. It is also the responsibility of buyers to do their due diligence by inspecting the animals they’re interested in buying before the bidding process begins. If the animal for sale is only available online, we strongly encourage bidders to contact the seller and request more information or photographs to make a more informed decision.

Jaw Evaluation
Defects of the mouth are highly genetic and can affect the sheep’s ability to nourish itself. This defect can become more pronounced with age. The lower incisors should properly meet the upper dental pad. An overshot jaw or parrot-mouth is the result of the sheep’s upper jaw being longer than the lower jaw. An undershot jaw or monkey-mouth is when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.

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I’ve Got a Day, Let’s Make Hay!

Lee Beers, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Trumbull County

Making high quality forage can be difficult, especially between forecasted rains. “Hay in day,” or haylage/baleage in a day, is increasing in popularity to optimize forage nutrition and to increase the number of hay making days during the year.

The goal of hay in a day is to mow, rake, chop (or bale and wrap) forages all in one day. It sounds difficult, but it may be a good option for your farm. Like any hay-making process, the goal of making haylage in a day is to get forages to the correct moisture suitable for chopping or baleage as quickly as possible.

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Hay Barn Fires a Real Hazard When the Rain Keeps Coming

Jason Hartschuh, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Field Specialist

Mother nature has been at it again, hardly giving us enough days to make silage or balelage let alone dry hay. There is a risk of pop-up showers every afternoon it seems like. The ground is also wet so the forage laying against the ground does not dry very well. These conditions are very dangerous for hay harvest since wet hay does not just rot it may also burn. Hay fires are caused when bacteria in wet hay create so much heat that the hay spontaneously combusts in the presence of oxygen. At over 20% moisture, mesophilic bacteria release heat, causing temperature to rise between 130 F to 140 F with temperature staying high for up to 40 days. As temperatures rise thermophilic bacteria can take off in your hay and raise the temperature into the fire danger zone of over 175 F.

Assessing your risk
If hay was baled between Continue reading

Start Your Scouting and Preparation for Tick and Fly Season Now

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County

(Image Source: Abrar Ul Haq Wani Professor (Assistant) at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University)

As I write this article, it is ninety degrees outside in the first week of May! It is time to start thinking about how we can keep our grazing animals safe from the various arthropods that can cause medical problems, production losses, and economic impact. We have always made plans for fly control over the summer, but it is time we consider adding tick control into our prevention and treatment plans as well. I wrote an update on Longhorned ticks and Theileria in the March 7th All About Grazing section, “What to watch for with Longhorned Ticks and Theileria in Ohio in 2024” but here is a quick refresher.

As of the beginning of 2024 we had positively identified ALHT in 11 counties in Ohio including Continue reading

Spring Lamb Management Tips

David Brown, Livestock Field Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
(Previously published online with the University of Missouri Extension: April, 2024)

Lambing can take place at different times of the year and there is no “one-size-fits-all” production system. Spring lambing has been found to be a more profitable production system when compared to fall and winter lambing because it takes full advantage of the spring and summer flush of grass. The abundance of spring forage lowers feed cost associated with processed feeds, saving the producers dollars that would have gone into feed purchases. Conception rates are much higher in spring lambing system because breeding coincides with their natural mating and lambing seasons. It is also less labor intensive and requires little equipment.

Spring-lambing takes place from March to May. Weaned lambs remain Continue reading