Category Archives: News

Sheep Newsletter – Colostrum is Gold

By Lucy Hepworth

The focus of our brilliantly well attended recent sheep farmers meeting was colostrum – how to get the quality right, and how intake impacts on lamb disease.

A Welsh study in 2020 measured colostrum quality in a sample of ewes on 64 farms, and 75% of the samples met target quality. The biggest driver of quality was ewe nutrition. The correct protein intake in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy is key. Long term protein intake is obviously also really important; it is reflected in ewe body condition, and is impacted by nutrition, chronic disease such as lameness, some ‘iceberg diseases’ as well as parasite burden.

The range of results in forage analyses 2023 was discussed, and forage analysis for an indoor system was actively encouraged to correctly balance up supplementary feed. Equally, the protein intake from spring grass was recognised in the later lambing flocks.

Metabolic profiles can be used on a sample of ewes (multiples, shearlings) 3 weeks before lambing to assess energy and protein intake. For the cost of a lamb or two, one can properly assess the ewe intake and whether it meets demands, with time to correct if necessary.

Farmers can easily measure colostrum quality with an inexpensive Brix refractometer (£20-£30). The target is over 26.5%. The first few ewes to lamb can be measured to see if feeding is on track, as well as measuring quality on spare colostrum to supplement other lambs. A sample of lambs can also be checked for colostrum intake with a visit from a vet tech at the start of lambing.

Whilst only half as good as ewe colostrum, many flocks at the meeting used some artificial colostrum with a huge range in quality of product. XL Premium Lamb Colostrum (identical to Immucol Platinum) is our our product of choicep,rosdeluecctteodf cbheociacues,eseitlepcrtoevdidbeesc5augsIegGit perorvfiededs 5wgheIgnGfepderatfetehde wrehpelancfeemdeant trhaeter.eMplanceymperondt urcatse.dMo annoyt meet the required 3gpIrgoGdupcetrsfdeoedn.ot meet the required 3g IgG per feed.

Getting mineral balance correct in the ewe around lambing with respect to macrominerals – calcium and magnesium is very important. Factors influencing milk fever in indoor and outdoor systems were discussed as well as evidence showing how supplementation of calcium can help immunity of lambs and growth rates. Microminerals (trace elements) interact closely and influence lamb vigour.

Most lamb growth takes place in the last 6 weeks. If lambs are born light or heavy, this has a significant impact on risk of mortality.

No flocks in the practice are routinely giving antibiotics to newborn lambs tocontrol disease. In addition to the discussion on colostrum, we also talked about hygiene to reduce watery mouth and joint ill. control disease. In addition to the discussion on colostrum, we also talked about hygiene to reduce watery mouth and joint ill.

Hygiene tips:

  • Clean storage of stomach tubes and use Milton as a disinfectant for tubes between lambs.
  • Keep ear tags and rubber rings in sealed boxes and dip in surgical spirit ahead of use.
  • Wear long gloves to lamb ewes so one does not to transfer Strep bacteria (that cause joint ill) from carrier ewes onto other tubes between lambs.
  • Use preparatory10% iodine dip not spray (will contain alcohol drying agent). Dip twice for indoor systems.

To read the full newsletter please follow this link: Spring 2024 – Sheep Newsletter

Blackmore Vale Magazine Article – My First Six Months in Practice

BLACKMORE VALE ARTICLE

My First Six Months in Practice

By Jade Mowlem MRCVS

I joined Friars Moor Livestock Health as a new graduate last July. Starting in the summer, a quieter time of the year for us farm vets, meant that I could get into the swing of day-to-day life as a fully-fledged vet without being rushed off my feet.

I studied at the University of Surrey, but Friars Moor is in fact a move towards home for me, having grown up on a dairy farm in West Dorset. Though Guildford isn’t a big city, I was glad to get back to rural Dorset and see cows day to day!

The first day I started work was actually the day I received my results, thankfully by lunch time I knew I had passed! I am doing an internship through the Royal Veterinary College this year but hope to stay once this comes to an end in June.

After 5 years at university, I was so keen to get out on farm. In my first few days, my colleagues were great at sending me on less daunting calls such as a lame sheep or some routine calf castrates. And then came the scary calls – a calving, a prolapse, a twisted uterus… I like a challenge! A cow c-section at midnight is one of my highlights!

Some of farm vetting is true James Herriot style – fresh air, driving through the countryside and skipping lambs in spring…but there is nothing quite like being up to your knees in mud or TB testing in the pouring rain! I wouldn’t change it.

Day to day life as a vet, especially on farms in the southwest, has moved away from what we like to call ‘firefighting’, farmers are so knowledgeable and can treat common conditions without our help. Following this, consultancy work has become a large part of our job. Advising on disease prevention, nutrition and farmer training to name a few.

I have really enjoyed getting to know the farmers in the area, albeit there are many still to visit, I find this an invaluable part of being a farm vet, with routine work allowing us to get to know our clients well and contribute to their business.

With spring springing, I am sure I will meet some more of you for the first time in the coming weeks! A regular saying I appreciate when I leave farm is ‘see you again, but not too soon!’.

Transition Success

Transition Success    By Helen Rogers and James Husband

It is well recognised that the primary factor determining the success of your transition period is Dry Matter Intake (DMI). At the XLVets Transition Cow Roadshow last year, Steve Le Blanc presented data illustrating that 82% of DMI in dry cows is determined by management and not body condition score (BCS), diet formulation or parity. Driving DMI in your dry cows and fresh calvers is relevant regardless of the management system, breed, yield or parity of the dry cows. As an example, in a dry Holsteins, a 1kg/day decrease in DMI doubles the risk of subclinical ketosis post calving.

The ultimate dry cow management to maximise transition success would include:

  • 3-5% of the ration left over every day
  • 30 inches (75cm) feed space per 750kg cow (or 4 cows per 5 head yokes)
  • Feed trough depth that allows access to all of the diet put out
  • Two sources of water per dry cow yard
  • Adequate water supply to allow for 4 litres of water to be drunk per kg DMI

Great success in driving DMI has been achieved by feeding dry cows twice a day. Provided the diet can be protected from the elements, it can be mixed once a day and then stored prior to putting it out as a second feed.

Supporting at risk cows:

What are effective interventions for ketotic cows?

Several feed additives have been extensively researched:

  • Propylene glycol…: The cow can use glycol to make glucose which is required for milk production and will be in short supply after calving. This is effective at doses of 300ml/day given for 3 to 5 days.
  • Calcium propionate….: Used by the cow to make glucose, this has the added benefit of providing calcium too. This needs to be supplied at 400-500g per day.
  • Choline… A recent review paper looking at the most effective treatments for fatty liver concluded that consistent improvements were only seen if energy sources (propylene glycol) were given with choline. The choline acts as an antioxidant and helps the cow produce the transport protein that clears the liver of fat (methionine can do a similar job). An analogy is that the propylene glycol is the fuel in the tank of the car but unless the engine is running well, the car won’t run well. The liver is the metabolic engine of the cow and unless it is healthy immunity, and milk production will be compromised.

How to supplement choline?

Choline can be supplemented in the transition ration to the point of calving, but unless a herd has a fresh cow group it can’t be supplemented post calving without giving to the whole herd. Targeted dosing can be achieved using boluses. Trial work looking at yield response, has shown these to be most effective when given:

  • At or soon after calving to fat cows that carry a higher risk of excess fat mobilization. In the trial, bolused cows that were condition score 3.5 or above gave an average of 5 litres more milk at the first recording compared with similar cows that were not supplemented.
  • In conjunction with energy precursors such as glycol, to cows that have subclinical ketosis, to allow the liver to function more effectively.
  • To sick cows post calving which will be mobilising fat and be in poor metabolic health probably with other appropriate treatments depending on the disease present.

Use of Choline is a relatively new tool in the management of cows who are at risk for transition ‘failure’. Please do speak to us to find out whether this could be a suitable tool to help these problem cows and to identify ways to maximise your DMI in your dry cows.

Many thanks to James Husband for providing content for this article.

New Year, New Challenges

Friars Moor Livestock Health would like to wish all of our clients a very Happy New year and hope for a prosperous 2024. 2024 looks to be an exciting year for us, with the opening of our Closworth branch this month, and with building work storming on at West Stour, 2024 will also see the farm team move premises.

2023 started with some of the highest milk prices seen historically, but closed somewhat lower. That looks set to rise a bit in the coming months but is no doubt likely to fluctuate somewhere below the early 2023 prices. This brings it challenges, as do various industry initiatives such as the Red Tractor ‘green module’ and changing structures for farm payments. We would encourage everyone to sign up for funding through the animal health and welfare pathway, which is now available to non-BPS claimants and can be used towards a huge range of performance and health related investigations on farm. We always try to stay abreast and ahead of such curves and continue to think about the current and future pressures on the agricultural industry and how these will shape veterinary businesses.

A reduction in sheep scanning results in our area have indicated that our sheep farmers may be facing challenges this spring. Some may be due to vector borne disease such as Blue tongue and Schmallenberg, which are undoubtably linked to warmer winters that we seem to be experiencing and aided by both insect migration and animal movements. If you are experiencing more than 2% empty at scanning or seeing evidence of reabsorptions, then talk to your vet about infectious disease testing. In 2023 APHA offered a range of surveillance testing on aborted foetuses and we expect there to be similar available in spring 2024.

If you sell animals for meat that will end up in export trade then from February 2024 you will require a VAN number. This involves a vet visit and some paperwork to inspect the entirety of your flock or herd for signs of disease. If you are a Red Tractor member, then this is not required.

 

To read our full newsletter please go to:

Monthly Farm Newsletter

NEW Closworth branch

OPEN FROM 15TH JANUARY 2024. Friars Moor Livestock Health Closworth branch at Hamish’s Farm Shop & Café.

 

PROVIDING INDEPENDENT FARM VETERINARY SERVICES.

9am-3pm Monday-Friday.

Staffed branch with full pharmacy facility, run alongside our existing three branches.

What will be living on your pasture over winter?

By Lucy Hepworth BVSc MRCVS

There has definitely been a lot of cattle lungworm in the Blackmore Vale in late summer/early autumn this year. What does this mean for your pasture if lungworm has been present on your farm this year? Lungworm in sheep is caused by a different species and there are usually no clinical signs, but in heavy infestations it can cause coughing and weight loss.

 

L3 larvae are excreted by cattle with lungworm onto the pasture. Historically most lungworm larvae tended to die over winter, and the following spring, pastures were contaminated by older carrier animals excreting lungworm larvae. However, as our climate changes, so do parasites and we should be aware of lungworm larvae being able to overwinter. Larval survival will also be influenced by how late in the season they are excreted.

So, if lungworm has been an issue this year on farm, then consider using the lungworm vaccine ahead of turnout next spring to give animals immunity. Alongside using the vaccine, consider the risk of the turnout pasture:

Low lungworm pasture risk doesn’t mean no risk. Cattle lungworm has cleverly adapted to use a fungus as part of its life cycle. The larvae can hitch a lift on the fungal spores and get carried from contaminated pasture to low risk pasture.

For farms who don’t use the vaccine, planning turnout to avoid high risk pasture is even more important. Strip grazing and use of back fencing will help to reduce the chance of a significant build-up of larvae. If high/medium risk pasture needs to be used with first year grazing animals that are not vaccinated, then a strategic worming protocol is likely to be warranted.

Gutworms have also benefitted from a warm wet autumn, and we have seen high worm egg counts in our lab recently. Infected animals excrete eggs onto the pasture which either overwinter if deposited late in the season or hatch out into larvae in a mild autumn. Gutworm larvae are known to overwinter relatively well, especially if the weather is cold because they are less active and retain energy reserves until spring.

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So, a similar principle applies to management of pasture for gutworms. Pasture which has been contaminated this autumn should be avoided for turning out naïve animals onto. High risk pasture should be grazed by immune adult animals, or left until June, otherwise a strategic worming control protocol needs to be in place.

Annotating a map of the farm with ‘which fields have been grazed when’ together with a record of any parasite burdens with dates, can be a useful way of deciding which fields present the lowest risk for turnout. Parasite mapping fits well with reducing dependence on wormer products and is part of a wider approach to minimising parasite impacts in sheep and cattle.

To read our full newsletter please go to:

Monthly Farm Newsletter

Bluetongue

Bluetongue has been confirmed in a single animal near Canterbury, Kent. A 10km temporary control zone has been put in place to minimise spread of disease and to determine if there has been any local spread.

Livestock keepers must remain vigilant. Bluetongue can affect species including sheep, cattle, deer, goats and camelids. It does not affect humans/food but can result in prolonged movement restrictions.Clinical signs include ulcers in the mouth and nose, swelling of head and coronary band and discharge from the eyes and nose.

If you have any queries regarding this, please contact the practice on 01258472314.

You can also go to the GOV website for guidance:

Bluetongue: how to spot and report the disease – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

 

 

Progress at our New Site!

You will now be able to see our new temporary entranceway to allow vehicles to access the site! All the grass has also been cut down to prepare for work to begin. Follow our social medias including our Youtube channel for regular video tours and updates!