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Cheesy gland

Cheesy gland, or caseous lymphadenitis, is a bacterial infection of sheep and goats.

Infection is widespread, but does not cause serious production losses on farm. However, it is a major cause of economic loss to the meat industry due to condemnations and carcase trimming.

Conditions when cheesy gland is likely to occur

  • Animals that have not been vaccinated.
  • After shearing (with the bacteria either gaining access through shearing cuts or directly through freshly shorn skin - bacteria can be spread on shearing equipment).
  • Dipping sheep immediately after shearing.
  • Rubbing and contamination of wounds and broken skin when animals are in close contact (this can be direct contact between animals or via contact with contaminated surfaces).
  • Small yards, direct physical contact and close grazing of contaminated grass or feed in feed troughs.

Identifying and diagnosing cheesy gland

Abscesses develop in lymph nodes around the body and may be obvious in freshly shorn sheep. Sometimes sheep and goats will cough if abscesses are in the lungs.

Producers may also be alerted to a problem in their flock by feedback from abattoirs.

Prevention strategies for cheesy gland

All animals in the flock, except lambs sold as suckers, should be vaccinated following the directions on the vaccine label. Sucker lambs do not need vaccinating because they are sold before abscesses develop.

Dipping hygiene is important and sheep should only be dipped if attempting to eradicate lice. Sheep should be carefully shorn to prevent shearing cuts and not dipped until cuts have healed.

More information