Last update: September 2, 2011 03:11:01 PM E-mail Print


Shearing shed hygiene

EM van Tonder


General remarks

THERE are many factors and circumstances involved in the shearing process, and in and around the shearing facilities, which are conducive to the incidence of specific disease conditions in small stock.

The ideal situation would have been to strictly reserve the shearing-shed and accompanying facilities for the purpose of shearing and crutching, but since this will require that these facilities are not occupied for the greater part of the year, it will be difficult to resist the temptation to also utilize it for other activities.

Whatever the circumstances on each particular property might be, it is nevertheless essential that a specific standard of hygiene should be maintained. It would therefore require that where shearing facilities are also used for other purposes, hygienic measures should be more conscientiously and regularly applied.


The shearing process and infections

There are various reasons why the shearing process and the shearing shed and surrounding facilities play such an important part in the incidence and spread of disease conditions. These include:

Apart from the actual wounds caused, it is also a fact that during shearing, especially with machine shearing, the protective waxy layer on the skin of the animal is also disrupted.

Shearing wounds constitute a direct port of entry into the body to infectious types of organisms, which may be present on the skin or in the fleece, while damage to the protective greasy layer decreases the natural resistance of the animal to penetrative organisms.


Hygiene in the shearing-shed and surrounding facilities

The shearing-shed should also be swept after shearing, after the clip has been processed and removed.

The entire shed, i.e. the floor, walls and even the roof should be thoroughly sprayed with a 3 to 5 percent formalin solution. Spraying should preferably be done by jetting, with sufficient pressure to apply the disinfectant from a comfortable distance. This is done to avoid undue irritation to the mucous surfaces of the eyes, nasal passages and mouth, which can cause great discomfort. Other effective disinfectants may also be used.

All windows and doors are tightly closed and left for at least 24 hours before they are re-opened to allow the irritant fumes to escape.


General measures

The most important general measure, which should be taken, is to reverse the sequence of shearing. Through the years, and for some minor reasons, it has become customary practice to shear animals in sequence of age, starting with the oldest animals first and ending with the youngest ones. This increases the risk of transmitting infection from the older and more often exposed animals to young susceptible ones. By reversing this order and starting with the young unaffected and susceptible animals first, followed by the older animals in order of age, the vicious circle is broken and positive steps taken to ensure that as far as certain infections are concerned, clean flocks are built up and maintained. Although it does present great practical difficulties, all possible efforts should at least be made to control flies in and around the shearing-shed during the shearing period. This will naturally include removal of collected manure and other breeding sources from time to time.



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