Clostridial Diseases

Clostridial disease is a real issue on every NZ pastoral farm. If not controlled it will almost definitely result in lamb losses. Usually it affects  the best lambs that were fine the night before but are found dead in the morning.

Pulpy Kidney

Pulpy kidney (PK) – also referred to as enterotoxaemia: The classic sign is sudden death in young lambs that are well fed and growing quickly. If grazing lucerne – this must be a consideration. However it can affect animals at any age, especially when they are grazing high quality pastures.


Lambs with Pulpy Kidney are usually found dead with no obvious signs, but may be found lying on the ground with their head extended back.


Tetanus: This occurs when the tetanus spores enter a deep wound where there is minimal aeration in the presence of dead & damaged tissue.  Tailing with rubber rings brings with it, one of the greatest risk.  However having a searing iron that is not hot enough can cause tissue damage that allows the tetanus spores to proliferate .



Tetanus appears 7-21 days after the injury that causes a deep penetrating wound that seals over one that creates a lot of dead tissue (e.g. from tailing or shearing wounds). Animals are stiff and go into a rigid spasm if stimulated.

The lesser known.....

The next 3 diseases are similar in appearance and all fall into the blood poisoning category which is typified by sudden death followed by rapid post death deterioration, bloody discharge from nose & bloating.

Blackleg: This is usually associated with dirty wounds, grazing muddy winter feed crops, after lambing & using dirty vaccination needles.

Malignant oedema: Lesions very similar to blackleg.

Black disease: Usually associated with liver fluke infection.  

Protection through Vaccination

Common clostridial bacteria are endemic throughout NZ farms, however diseases are not commonly seen due to the widespread use of vaccination.  Because vaccination is so effective and has been around for a long time many new generation farmers may never have seen the diseases.

Farmers need to be confident that the disease risk will always be present and that a sound vaccination programme will be stopping the disease from happening.  Most of the disease outbreaks are now associated with farmers forgetting to vaccinate.


Ultravac Sheep Vaccine Timings A4-page-002.jpg
Ultravac Sheep Vaccine Timings A4-page-001.jpg