Ram sedation for shearing

ACP Sedation of Rams for Shearing

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) changes have lead to using sedation to shear rams over 75kg body weight. Acepromazine (a phenothiazine sedative drug, ACP) has been now used for several years to sedate rams prior to shearing. The use of ACP in rams can lead to potential side effects that the manager of the flock needs to be aware of prior to administering the sedation.

The potential side effects of ACP sedation include, but are not limited to:

  • Penile prolapse-
    • The penis can get traumatised because it is hanging out.
  • Loss of temperature control leading to overheating or loss of body temperature.
  • Staggering, falling over, inco-ordination causing injury
  • Overdosage
  • Death

The following management procedures can help reduce the risk associated with ACP sedation.

  • Ensure that the weather isn’t too hot or cold the day of shearing and that shelter is provided during recovery (eg in the shade or in the shed).
  • Weigh rams if possible to ensure correct dosing of ACP.
  • Sedate rams in small batches so that they can be adequately supervised after sedation and shearing.
    • The sedation takes 30 minutes to take affect and lasts up to 4 hours- they need to be monitored for this time.

Put the rams back into the pens after shearing to allow monitoring.

  • If placing rams down chutes make certain that they clear the chutes prior to the next rams going down. Failure for the previous ram to move can lead to smothering.
  • Monitor rams following shearing to make certain they sit up straight to prevent pneumonia and also prevent them from smothering.
  • In the event that a ram missed a dose or got a partial dose, wait 30 minutes to assess degree of sedation, then top up with a half dose to full dose if required.
  • Meat withholding period is 2 days following injection.
  • Contact your vet if penile prolapse has occurred or you believe a ram is showing signs of distress.