Vaccinating sheep: techniques and tips - Elders Rural Services

Vaccinating sheep: techniques and tips

Where is the best place to vaccinate sheep? What length needle should I use?

These are the questions that a recent research study by Zoetis, with the assistance of Dr Tristan Jubb of Bendigo Sheep Vets, looked to address. The study aimed to find the most suitable technique to deliver vaccine under the skin and minimise the chance of site reactions.

Vaccination site

Graphic showing the preferred vaccination site in the neck (orange circle)

Previous recommendations were to vaccinate high on the neck behind the ear.

This is a particularly sensitive area of the neck where salivary glands, lymph nodes, blood vessels and larger vertebrae can be found, meaning an increased risk of damaging these structures and potential site reactions.

The new recommended vaccination site is further down on the side of the neck, as circled in the graphic to the left.

Needle length and technique

The length of the needle and angle become very important when trying to place vaccine under the skin.

If the needle goes too deep, vaccine will be delivered into the muscle, leading to a potential site reaction or the body ‘encapsulating’ the vaccine and preventing it from taking effect.

The following needle recommendations were found to be the best in delivering the vaccine under the skin.

Lambs18 G1/4 inch45 degrees
Adult off shears /short wool / low body condition18 G 1/4 inch45 degrees
Adults with wool growth18 G1/4 inch90 degrees

For more best practice animal health advice contact your local Elders livestock production advisor.

Article written by Elders livestock production advisor Emma Shattock.
Reference: Zoetis website

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The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.