Tetanus is a disease caused by Clostridium tetani, an organism commonly found in the soil. It is much more prevalent on farms where horses have been kept. The spores live in the soil for years and can present a continuing disease problem on some farms. The organism can infect sheep through wounds from shearing, docking, castration, or vaccination. The organism also can be introduced into the reproductive tract by unsanitary humans who assist ewes during lambing.


• Tetanus is a clostridial disease that mostly affects lambs within three weeks of marking.

• Most cases of tetanus occur in flocks with an inadequate vaccination program.


• The main signs are muscle spasms including head tremors, restricted jaw movements, dilated nostrils and pricked ears.

• The tail is generally held out and there is stiffness in the legs.

• Initially lambs can walk with a stiff gait but as the disease progresses they will go down and have intermittent convulsions.

• Sound and sudden movements are likely to set off bouts of convulsions.

• Most cases die within 3-4 days.


• Based on clinical signs shown by affected sheep.


• There is no economic and effective treatment for tetanus.


• Vaccination is the key to prevention of tetanus.

• Good hygiene at lamb marking is important in preventing tetanus.

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