Parasite Watch, Sheep farming

Clostridia Disease – How to Vaccinate and Protect Against It

Clostridial diseases have been a livestock issue for hundreds of years and affect species all around the world. Unfortunately, sudden death is often the first sign a farmer will see that clostridia are present. Find out which are the most common clostridia and how to vaccinate against them.

What are clostridia?

Clostridia are bacteria, which survive for long periods of time and spread far and wide. They’re found in many farm environments:

  •       Soil
  •       Surface water
  •       Spoiled feed
  •       Rotting vegetation
  •       Decomposing animal matter 

Inside the animal, clostridia can be found in the gut of sheep and also within other healthy tissue.

Sudden death

Diseases are often triggered by something as simple as a change in diet or an injury. As the sheep has already ingested the bacteria this trigger activates the clostridia to release deadly pathogenic toxins, which affect healthy tissue. When acute disease takes hold, death is then the most common result.

Sheep can be protected against ten of the most common clostridia in the UK and associated diseases by vaccination. The Covexin® 10 vaccine provides the broadest range of protection for up to one year against:

C. perfringens type A (small intestine haemorrhage) – Clostridial Enterotoxaemia

C. perfringens type B (severe haemorrhagic diarrhoea) – Lamb Dysentery

C. perfringens type C (severe diarrhoea) - Struck

C. perfringens type D (sudden death) – Pulpy Kidney

C. septicum (gas-filled swellings) - Braxy

C. novyi type B (liver disease) – Blacks Disease

C. sordellii (abomasal ulceration, or sudden death in lambs) – Clostridial Abomasitis

C. tetani (stiffening paralysis, lockjaw and gradual death) - Tetanus

C. haemolyticum aka C. novyi type D (liver damage) – Bacterial Redwater

C. chauvoei (muscle swelling) - Blackleg



Covexin 10 can provide active immunity for up to a year in sheep. The vaccine prompts the body to respond to the toxins produced by clostridial bacteria and protect itself against disease.

>> Covexin 10: Combat Clostridia Disease 

A lamb can be vaccinated from two weeks of age, but will preferably receive passive immunity from its mother by suckling just after birth. The dam can be vaccinated to increase antibodies found in the colostrum (first milk). When passed onto the lamb can provide protection for up to 12 weeks.

Once the lamb is older, this protection from its mother wanes and it is no longer protected. The first vaccine of the primary course can be given to the lamb at three months of age, followed by the second primary vaccine a month to six weeks later.

Since the administration is a subcutaneous injection, farmers can use the Accurus treatment gun to safely and accurately administer vaccines. The Accurus gun can be used single-handedly to simplify the procedure. Covexin 10 dosing regimens are deliberately kept simple too.




Sheep require an annual boost of the vaccine for full protection from clostridial disease. The first booster is required on the anniversary of the second primary vaccine (given at four months of age). If the booster is not given, the vaccine will not provide any further protection.

When a ewe is pregnant, they require a booster to protect their young via their colostrum. This should be given 2-8 weeks before the lambs are born. The booster is then required every year at this time.

It is vital that farmers keep a note of the date a booster is due to ensure continued protection for the flock.

COVEXIN 10 FOR SHEEP AND CATTLE contains C. perfringens type A toxoid, C. perfringens type B & C (ß) toxoid, C. perfringens type D toxoid (ε), C. chauvoei whole culture, C. novyi toxoid, C. septicum toxoid, C. tetani toxoid, C. sordellii toxoid, C. haemolyticum toxoid. POM-VPS For further information please see the product’s SPC or contact Zoetis UK Limited, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. Customer Support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly ( Date of preparation: September 2016