Livestock production: Check and revise vaccination schedules

The rainy season is a good time to take a fresh look at management systems and vaccination protocols on your farm. It signals the arrival of ticks, worms (endoparasites), biting flies and midges.

Diseases to vaccinate against in Zambia include: Anthrax, Black Quarter, Lumpy Skin Disease, Three-Day-Stiff sickness, Rift Valley Fever, Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, Contagious Abortion, Leptospirosis and Vibriosis in cattle. Vaccinate horses against: African Horse Sickness, and Herpes in breeding mares. In sheep vaccinate against: Bluetongue, Pulpy Kidney, tetanus, Pasteurella, Enzootic Abortion.

When farmers know what livestock diseases occur in their area they can vaccinate to protect their animals. Preventive disease control through vaccination, paying attention to animal condition and checking worm loads, plus a few reasonable biosecurity measures can make a real difference to the profitability of herds and flocks.

Parasite infestations are reported in all seasons, so don’t assume your animals are safe during the cooler months. Anaemia, bottle jaw, weight loss and diarrhoea can be warning signs of heavy gut parasite loads.


Immature stage, multiple host, ticks may be spotted in the cool season by looking inside the animal’s ear. Treat livestock for ticks with a suitable dip during winter if necessary.

Animals in poor condition are easy targets for other parasites like lice. Sucking lice cause anaemia, while biting lice distract and irritate animals and less time is spent grazing which in turn, generates further loss of condition.

Tick-borne diseases occur year round so farmers should stay alert to clinical signs of illness and, where possible, treat their animals in time. Many livestock deaths are preventable if they are picked up and treated timeously.

Biting flies and midges are less prolific in the cooler, drier period which makes it a good time to vaccinate.


Trichomonas is a preventable, sexually transmittable, infection that is becoming more and more of a problem, says Dr Faffa Malan.

In farmer study groups, cattlemen and women have a useful forum for productive discussion about common concerns. STDs would be one such topic since co-operation between herd owners is important in stamping out STDs especially in beef herds. Cattle farmers lose money every year because of STDs in their herds.

The importance of protecting animals against bacterial diseases, especially against Brucellosis (CA) cannot be over emphasised. “Excellent biosecurity standards properly implemented can actually stop Brucellosis from infecting a herd,” says vet, Dr Faffa Malan. CA can go unnoticed until a cow or a heifer aborts in the herd.

Consulting vets: Dr Moosa Ameen, Zambia and Dr Faffa Malan,

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