Category Archives: Category 1

Vet Tech Vacancy

Come and join our team of vet techs in our friendly and progressive practice.

Full or part time position.

Previous experience with cattle preferred.

Must enjoy working in a team alongside our Vet Techs, Vets and Admin team, but also be confident to work alone.

Must be a good communicator.

A working day may involve:

  • Assisting cattle foot trimmers, with the aspiration to trim independently.
  • Freeze branding. Mobility and body condition scoring.
  • Assisting during TB tests. Assisting with flock management tasks

Opportunities exist for formal training, such as the CHCSB Level 4 and ROMS accreditation.

Applications to: Daisy Kerley, Practice Manager ([email protected]).

Closing date: Friday 31st May 2024

 

Benchmarking Heifer Performance – April Newsletter

By John Walsh

Recently we have been using a new benchmarking tool to assess how the dairy farms we look after are performing. One metric we have benchmarked, is age at first calving for heifers. This average can give an indication of heifer breeding efficiency and overall management of heifers within your herd. This metric is also commonly used by milk buyers to assess herd performance.

There are many benefits of achieving age at first calving targets and include: lower rearing costs per heifer, fewer heifers needed to be kept on the farm at one time, improved fertility, improved lifetime production and lower culling rates.

As with any average, age at first calving may be a true representative of a herds heifer breeding efficiency, but it can also hide areas of management that may not be optimal. For example, you may have a large spread of ages with some very young heifers and older heifers contributing to the average. Therefore, this figure may look good but heifer performance may not be optimal.

The average also doesn’t take into account target weight at first service and calving – the risk of focusing on age at first calving is that it can sometimes compromise the performance of those animals because they’ve calved younger but might be below weight at first calving. This will have an impact on production and potentially survivability. It’s very important when calving at around 24 months that you’re hitting target weights right the way through the process, at service and when calving.

Fig 1. Shows how the herds we look after (in blue) are performing compared to national figures (in grey).

We have benchmarked our herds compared to national averages (see Fig. 1) If you want to know how your herd is performing, please speak to either your clinical vet or to one of our specialist youngstock vets.

These are several reasons that animals are not hitting the target age at first calving. These can be down to farmers animals at a certain age, poor growth rates, poor fertility or fertility management, high disease incidence or nutritional issues. Our specialist young stock vets will start by looking at the age of first calving as a guide to overall performance, but they will also assess how heifers are performing with target weights through to calving, how these animals are milking in their first lactation, how many heifers reach their second calving and heifer breeding performance. If you would like a visit to assess your heifer management please give us a call.

To read the full newsletter please go to our Monthly Newsletters page.

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

Farming a Greener Future

Our vet and director John is in a AHDB film, made in partnership with ITN Business, showcasing the future of sustainable agriculture and the unique role of livestock is live.

By 2050, the global population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion, and to meet dietary demands food production must increase by 70%.

But with the common narrative being dictated by simplistic negative conclusions of livestock’s role within rising global temperatures, nature decline and decreasing human health, it is clear livestock’s value to society is grossly misunderstood.

To raise awareness and understanding of the importance of livestock and its role in feeding the population sustainably, AHDB has partnered with ITN Business to produce a news-style film, Farming a Greener Future.

Launched as part of Countryside COP, and anchored by journalist Duncan Golestani, the film will explore these key themes:

  • How British agriculture is adapting and innovating to reduce its environmental impact
  • Livestock’s unique role in building more sustainable farming systems
  • Delivering food security for a growing global population to support health

It also features four industry partners to demonstrate some of the many ways British farming is innovating and adapting to not only reduce its environmental impact but continue to feed a growing population more sustainably.

  • Highlighting the importance of data integrity and how livestock are supporting nature recovery on a farm in Suffolk, Cool Farm Tool offers farmers the ability to manage complex science and data
  • Delving into the benefits of a circular farming approach and the utilisation of waste products. Platts Agriculture showcases sustainable livestock bedding which also supports animal health
  • Supporting the message that sustainability is not just about the environment, Boehringer Ingelheim demonstrates the importance of preventive animal care at a farm in Dorset to support ethical livestock production with a lower environmental impact
  • And finally, Doosan Bobcat shows how technology is supporting labour shortages on a farm in Limerick and how innovations are supporting the journey to net-zero emissions

The programme will be promoted by ITN Business over the next month to key audiences, including the media and academia, on the New Scientist website and on the ITN Business Hub.

Watch the video below for John’s interview:

For the full AHDB film go to:

 

 

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