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.

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

Pneumonia – Sheep And Goats

Australian Livestock Export Corporation Limited
Meat and Livestock Australia
(Previously published online with the LiveCorp and MLA Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder)

(Image Source: Anexa Veterinary Services, NZ)

Pneumonia refers to inflammation of the lungs. It may be accompanied by inflammation of the larger airways (bronchioles) and referred to as bronchopneumonia, or by inflammation of the pleura (outer surface of the lung, adjacent to the chest wall) and referred to as pleuropneumonia. Pneumonia in sheep and goats is often caused by infectious agents, particularly by a combination of bacteria and viruses.

In sheep and goats, the important infectious agents associated with pneumonia include:

  • Viruses – Parainfluenza virus type-3 (PI-3), adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and caprine arthritis and encephalitis (CAE) virus (goats).
  • Bacteria – Manehimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Haemophilus sp., Chlamydia sp., Salmonella sp., and Mycoplasma sp.

Non-infectious causes of pneumonia include Continue reading

Yellow Flowers of Concern

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Fields along the floodplain have been turning yellow over the past couple weeks as cressleaf groundsel is bolting and flowering. From a distance, a haze of yellow floats above the field. Upon closer inspection, you will find collections of daisy-like flowers on slender stems waving their sunny faces in the breeze. While it sounds sort of dreamy and whimsical, this plant (also known as butterweed) can cause livestock poisonings in harvested or grazed forages. All parts of the plant are considered toxic in both fresh and dried states.

Cressleaf groundsel is a member of the aster family and displays yellow daisy-like blooms in the springtime on upright hollow stems that have a purple hue. These plants are Continue reading

Minnesota Goat Confirmed to have Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota Extension Teams
(Previously published online with North Dakota State University Extension and Ag Research News: March, 21, 2024)

A juvenile goat in Minnesota recently tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). While HPAI has been detected in predatory mammals that prey on infected birds, this is the first identified case of HPAI in domestic livestock in the U.S. The goat lived on the same premises where a poultry flock tested positive for HPAI in late February. The goat shared the same pasture and sole water source as the poultry flock.

HPAI is a known disease of wild and domestic poultry and waterfowl. There is limited information available about HPAI infection in ruminants, though in some species, animals with immature or compromised immune systems appear to be at greater risk of infection. Only Continue reading

What to Watch for with Asian Longhorned Ticks and Theileria in Ohio in 2024

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

(Image Source: Tadhgh Rainey, Hunterdon County Health Services, New Jersey)

One of the worrisome things about ticks in Ohio has been the increasing numbers of ticks of medical importance to humans, companion animals, and livestock as we have gone from one tick of medical importance twenty years ago to five now, including two new ticks in the past few years. While ticks have always been a problem in cattle, the invasive Asian longhorned (ALHT) tick that was first discovered in Ohio in 2020 has demonstrated the ability to not only vector, or transmit disease to cattle, but to cause mortality in cattle through high numbers of ticks feeding upon the animals. I first wrote about ALHT  in All About Grazing in July of 2020 with the article “The Threat of Asian longhorned tick continues” and then followed up with a March 2nd, 2023 article “Managing Asian longhorned ticks on pasture” so I want to provide an update on where we are in the state of Ohio with ALHT right now.

Where are we seeing ALHT in Ohio right now?
As of the end of 2023, we had positively identified ALHT in Continue reading

Top Tips for Healthy Lambs

Sarah McNaughton, Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress
(Previously published online with Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress: January 19, 2024)

Montana State Extension shares management practices for lambing and kidding.

With lambing and kidding season arriving to ranches, now is the time to evaluate management and facilities for a successful spring crop. Brent Roeder, sheep and wool Extension specialist at Montana State University, shared health management tips for lambs and kids during a recent producer-focused webinar.

Sheep and goats are management-responsive, with nutritional, environmental, or predatory stressors opening the door to disease.

“A lot of livestock management with sheep and goats is knowing how to manage the stress, especially in lambing,” Roeder said. “Knowing what to feed, when to feed, when to vaccinate, how to manage in the cold weather, how to keep predators out — all of those things play into maximizing your performance.”

While lamb loss is never ideal, Roeder said that it’s something that can’t be avoided. “It’s impossible to Continue reading