Campylobacter is the biggest cause of sheep abortions , however, there is evidence that it causes insidious lamb losses that previously have not been attributed to this disease. We know that, apart from the abortions we see, it can also be responsible for lambs born alive but weak and die after a few days , evidence is now mounting that it also causes early foetal losses (seen at scanning as abnormal fetuses). The classic campylobacter “abortion storms” tend to appear only periodically, flaring up again after a few years absence. Where this has happened, it is important to maintain immunity in the flock through vaccination , if not, then larger differences are seen between scanning and docking percentages. Analysis of data from a survey by Peter Anderson (a private vet from Blenheim) of Marlborough farms from 1993 to 1999 showed for example up to a 9.3% improvement in docking percentage where half of the flock was vaccinated, and all run together (vaccinated and unvaccinated). On some of these farms, campylobacter had never been detected, but the vaccination response showed it was likely to have been present. So what does this mean for you, the breeder? There are different scenarios, depending on your flock history. Talk with your vet regarding your best option. In summary – Vaccinate hoggets to be mated, or 2ths if not vaccinated as hoggets, before the ram is joined with them. Two inoculations are required 4 to 8 weeks apart; the second one should be given at or prior to ram joining. Note – this is a change in our previous common recommendation to give the first inoculation at ram joining, and the second at ram removal, or 6 weeks after the first (sensitiser) shot. – If hoggets have been vaccinated, it is probably wise to give a booster inoculation the next year prior to ram joining as 2ths. This option will vary according to your farm history. – Where vaccination has never been used before, the entire flock should be given a sensitiser and booster in the first year – thereafter, only the first-time to the ram females get two inoculations – if these happen to be hoggets, they get a booster as 2ths.