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Pete Orpin has been leading the charge nationally in encouraging farmers to take pat in the NJMP to control Johne’s Disease.

He has recently completed a survey which clearly shows the great benefits of getting ahead of Johne’s Disease. 82% of farmers believed their herds had better overall health.

Over half of the Park Vet Group herds are already testing for Johne's Disease. We are now in the process of reviewing the risks and plans to make sure that your JD plan will work for you and take you to a better place in 3-5 years time.

For more information visit our articles section.

We have reviewed the 4 main pain killers and anti inflammatory drugs we use and compared them. Increasingly we are finding benefits in using these drugs after difficult calvings, disbudding, castrating, scour, pneumonia, early lactation mastitis and in any animal where pain is a concern.

Visit the articles section or click here to read more.

Welcome to our latest Dairy Newsletter – your update on everything that’s going on.

Energy Balance

Many of you have now turned your cows out to enjoy the lush grass and the sunshine! It maybe worth considering the effects of negative energy balance especially in the fresh cows and how this may impact on their future fertility. Something we can do at your routine visits is to check energy levels in the fresh group, we only need a small drop of blood from freshly calved cows. Ketone levels are measured on a hand held meter and we can give you the results immediately. Ideally we need about 6 normal cows, not sick, retained cleansing or dirty. We can build up a picture and advise if the diet needs tweaking to increase the energy levels.

Cows with too much of a negative energy balance in early lactation tend to be difficult to get back in calf. This results both from a delay in the resumption of normal oestrus cycling and a lower conception rate.

Ketosis

Clinical Ketosis is often characterised by the smell of pear drops on the breath, ketosis (or acetonaemia) commonly results from a severe early lactation energy gap. The mobilisation of large amounts of body fat in the liver in an attempt to bridge this shortfall can lead to toxic levels of ketones accumulating in the blood, milk and urine. This results in loss of appetite and a marked fall in milk yield.

Serious energy deficits can also arise when cows are expected to support themselves on large amounts of wet, unpalatable or low digestibility grass without adequate supplementation. To help prevent ketosis:

  • Aim to have cows fit but not fat at both drying off and calving (Body Condition Score 2.5-3)
  • Introduce the main production forage during the dry period
  • Introduce other ingredients of the production ration three weeks ahead of calving
  • Formulate production rations carefully to meet balanced energy and protein needs
  • Ensure sugar and starch levels do not exceed recommended levels
  • Avoid acidosis by limiting individual concentrate feeds to no more than 4kg at a time
  • Monitor forage quality and ensure good access to forage at all times
  • Avoid sudden and major changes in the diet.

Free visits available for Mastitis and Pneumonia cases in Cattle

We’re involved in a national research project running throughout this year that will enable (a limited number of!) free visits, sampling and lab analysis for mastitis cases and for pneumonia cases.

The project organisers aim to create a new sample database of bacteria that have not been exposed to antibiotics. This will be used for research into new and existing therapeutics, and also treatment failures. The organisers therefore cover our costs of visiting animals with either mastitis or pneumonia and taking samples for analysis.

We took on the project believing that it will help us to get involved in problems on farm at an early stage, at no cost to yourselves. It fits with our aims as a vet practice, and we hope that it appeals to you for the same reasons, too. The project will run until the end of 2020.

Which cases are eligible?

The table below explains which cases are eligible for the study:

Disease Signs Included if: Excluded if:
Mastitis Milk from a quarter is visibly abnormal (flake/ clots/ watery) OR any of: Swelling, redness, heat or tenderness/pain on palpation Lactating cow (rather than dry cow or precalved heifer) Chronic case. Received antibiotics for any reason in last 15 days
Pneumonia Depression, high temperature (>40°C) AND one/more of: fast breathing, difficulty breathing, cough, discharge from nose Calves between 3 weeks and 12 months of age Chronic condition. Received antibiotics for any reason in last 21 days

Costs

The value of this work is often well in excess of £100, and to you it will be free of charge. We hope that this sounds like something you’d like to be involved in.

What costs are covered?

  • Visit fee
  • Vet time fees
  • Lab fees
  • Advice on the results

What costs are not covered?

  • Medicines for treating cases
  • Sampling of more cases than the project allows (there is a limit on the number of cases that can be sampled on a farm within a time period)
  • “Whilst you’re here” other work
  • Further disease investigation work

How to get involved

If you have a case that you think may be eligible, please contact the practice as early as possible. State that you’re calling about the mastitis or pneumonia research project. Our reception team may then ask you a few questions just to check that it meets the criteria, and will send a vet out if necessary. Even if the case does not fit the project criteria, as always, you’ll have the option to speak to a vet about it.

Covid 19 Update

It would be impossible to send out a monthly newsletter without focusing on the global pandemic of highly contagious Coronavirus. As an industry it is vital that we maintain a strong food supply to an already struggling and panicked nation and in light of this we want to reassure you that your farm animal veterinary team at The Park Vet Group will continue to provide you as close to “normal” services as is safe to do so over the coming weeks and months. To ensure the ongoing safety of yourselves, other clients, and our team we have made some changes to how we operate. We ask that you help us by engaging with these measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and keep our veterinary team supporting your businesses and providing essential services.

Medicines

Please order normal amounts of medicines and ring all orders into the office with 48 hours notice. Vets will be also be visiting the practice much less often to collect your orders so please order well in advance of your visit. For medicine collection, please do not enter reception. Please ring the office from the carpark when you arrive, and your order will be placed outside the door to avoid immediate contact.

Farm Visits

We will maintain all routine and emergency calls. If you or anyone on farm is unwell, in advised self-isolation or social distancing, please make us aware before we arrive on farm so that we can make the best decision to reduce risks for everyone. We will continue to use our usual protective equipment and practice strict hygiene and biosecurity measures such as disinfecting between visits and wearing disposable gloves. We will also be using antiseptic hand gel between farms. Please always practice social distancing, no hand shaking, passing equipment and stand 2 metres apart from other people. This is vital to avoid unnecessary infection spread

Laboratory Testing

Many external labs are reducing the list of tests they offer down to those conditions that are deemed welfare or production issues. Most farm animal testing is continuing as normal but will be run less frequently. Most Health Schemes are suspending testing and will contact their members directly about this if you are due a test soon.

TB Testing

All TB testing is continuing where a 2-metre distance can be maintained i.e. minimal staff are required and good handling facilities are available, a crush for adult cattle and a calf crush or halter for younger animals. If you are unable to complete your test due to current illness or self isolation, please contact APHA direct. Please let the office know when you have instruction from APHA.

Castration of Bull Calves

In the current situation it is difficult for us to surgically castrate calves whilst maintaining a safe 2 metre distance. In light of this, we advise that as many calves as possible should be castrated by ringing at birth. By law calves can be castrated with a rubber ring under 7 days old by a trained member of staff. This is best done within 24 hrs of birth at tagging to make it easier. Make sure there are two testicles in the scrotum before the ring is released from the pliers. Plenty of studies have found that there is no benefit between surgical castration at 3 months and ringing under 7 days old on weight at weaning or final kill weight, but the ‘check’ that occurs from castration is far less if done by rubber ring under 7 days old.

Welcome to our Beef & Sheep Veterinary Newsletter for May 2020 – your update on everything that’s going on.

Lamb Diarrhoea

With lamb scour being a concern at this time of year, Nematodirus remains our highest priority, however we also need to discuss other causes of scour at pasture such as Coccidiosis. This parasite is a risk to lambs over 4 weeks old with clinical signs presenting 2 weeks after turnout; this includes scour, straining lambs, poor growth and sudden death. Oocysts (eggs) survive on pasture over winter. Ingestion of a low level of hatched cocci oocysts in spring triggers immune development, but if environmental pressure becomes too high, debilitating disease can occur. Worm egg counts are important to ensure cocci is the causal agent – only 2 of the many species of cocci cause disease. Collect teaspoon sized samples of fresh faeces from lambs only to assess for cocci burdens sampling 10% of the group. Do not let samples get warm between collection and delivery as oocysts hatch giving us falsely low readings. If you are concerned about Coccidiosis on your farm or are unsure about Coccidiosis treatments, please speak to us at the practice for more advice.

Bull breeding soundness

Recent studies in the UK show that 20-30% of fertility tested bulls are subfertile. This is crucial when beef suckler profitability relies on kilos of beef weaned per number of cows put to the bull. Any inflammatory processes e.g. lameness or an increased temperature can damage sperm leading to a subfertile bull which won’t necessarily be detected until cows are presented for PD. Therefore, investing a bit of time and money prior to the breeding season to make sure you are set up to be as efficient as possible is well worthwhile. We recommend having all bulls tested, 610 weeks prior to the start of the service period. This allows time for bulls to be treated/recover from any issues and then re-tested as the whole cycle of sperm production can take up to 60 days or worst case scenario for any replacement bulls to be sourced. A fully fertile bull run with 40-50 cows should achieve an average pregnancy rate to each service of 60%. This would result in 94% of cows being pregnant within 9 weeks of breeding. A sub-fertile bull that is achieving for example, only a 40% pregnancy rate to each service, would result in only 78% of cows being pregnant after a 9 week mating period. A significant increase in barren rates or an extended calving block!

A bull breeding soundness exam includes checking:

  • Feet, legs and locomotion (fundamental for service)
  • Body condition score (aim for 3 – 3.5)
  • Health treatments are up to date (vaccinations, blood samples for new purchases/accreditation, parasite control)
  • Internal and external sexual organs (including testicle size/consistency)
  • Semen quality (volume, density, motility and abnormalities)

Buying a new bull is a big investment and he needs to stay fit and fertile for at least six breeding years to be cost effective, pass on the genetic traits he was picked for and produce healthy, viable calves. However, data suggests that the average bull lifespan is six years resulting in only four working seasons. Therefore, we need to make sure we always look after our bulls to get the best return. A breeding soundness exam will help identify issues early on. If you are interested in this service please give the farm office a call to book an appointment with Wendy.

Seeking Participants for a Research Project

The University of Liverpool is running a project to investigate Johne’s disease on UK beef and sheep farms. Ovine Johne’s disease is much more common than most people realise and this project will investigate the risk factors and effect of the disease on the productive lifespan of ewes and farm economics. Furthermore, little research has been done on cross species transmission and a major aim of this project is to better understand the risk posed by sheep to cattle for Johne’s infection and vice versa.

We would like to invite sheep only, beef only and mixed beef and sheep farms to participate in this practical research, whether you think you have Johne’s on your farm or not. If you wish to take part, please complete the short questionnaire which can be found at https:// liverpool.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/johnes-disease-copy

Along with further information about the project and a consent form. A follow up, free of charge visit for flock and/or herd-level sampling and further data collection will be arranged for later in the year for approximately 100 suitable farms. Each enrolled farm will receive a detailed diagnostic report from the samples collected, free of charge.

Please feel free to email Laura Taylor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

Pelvic scoring beef suckler heifers

Got surplus heifers? Wondering which to breed as replacements? Want to minimise calving difficulties? We can help!

We can identify heifers with narrow pelvises that are likely to cause problems at first calving. This “pelvic scoring” is common in the US and New Zealand, and is now taking off in the UK too. It’s quick and easy to do, and the benefits can be dramatic. On UK farms, it has led to halving the number of assisted calvings and reductions in calf losses by almost two-thirds.

How do we do it? We use callipers to measure the internal diameter of the pelvis. We then calculate the size of the birth canal and use a computer tool to account for heifer weight and age. The tool calculates the size of the calf that, in 9 months’ time, the heifer should be able to calve without assistance.

Heifers with very small pelvis relative to their size stand out, and we would strongly recommend that you do not breed from them. If you have a surplus of heifers, this can reveal heifers that really ought not be retained in your herd. Of course, this cannot be a perfect prediction of calving ease, because growth rates, bull factors and individual variation also have influence. But it can clearly reveal animals at high risk of problems that should be selected out of the herd, helping to maximise welfare, efficiency and herd performance. If you’d like further information, or for us to visit and do some pelvic scoring, please get in touch.

Free visits available for Mastitis and Pneumonia cases in Cattle

We’re involved in a national research project running throughout this year that will enable (a limited number of!) free visits, sampling and lab analysis for mastitis cases and for pneumonia cases.

The project organisers aim to create a new sample database of bacteria that have not been exposed to antibiotics. This will be used for research into new and existing therapeutics, and also treatment failures. The organisers therefore cover our costs of visiting animals with either mastitis or pneumonia and taking samples for analysis.

We took on the project believing that it will help us to get involved in problems on farm at an early stage, at no cost to yourselves. It fits with our aims as a vet practice, and we hope that it appeals to you for the same reasons, too. The project will run until the end of 2020.

Which cases are eligible?

The table below explains which cases are eligible for the study:

Disease Signs Included if: Excluded if:
Mastitis Milk from a quarter is visibly abnormal (flake/ clots/ watery) OR any of: Swelling, redness, heat or tenderness/pain on palpation Lactating cow (rather than dry cow or precalved heifer) Chronic case. Received antibiotics for any reason in last 15 days
Pneumonia Depression, high temperature (>40°C) AND one/more of: fast breathing, difficulty breathing, cough, discharge from nose Calves between 3 weeks and 12 months of age Chronic condition. Received antibiotics for any reason in last 21 days

Costs

The value of this work is often well in excess of £100, and to you it will be free of charge. We hope that this sounds like something you’d like to be involved in.

What costs are covered?

  • Visit fee
  • Vet time fees
  • Lab fees
  • Advice on the results

What costs are not covered?

  • Medicines for treating cases
  • Sampling of more cases than the project allows (there is a limit on the number of cases that can be sampled on a farm within a time period)
  • “Whilst you’re here” other work
  • Further disease investigation work

How to get involved

If you have a case that you think may be eligible, please contact the practice as early as possible. State that you’re calling about the mastitis or pneumonia research project. Our reception team may then ask you a few questions just to check that it meets the criteria, and will send a vet out if necessary. Even if the case does not fit the project criteria, as always, you’ll have the option to speak to a vet about it.

Covid-19 update

It would be impossible to send out a monthly newsletter without focusing on the global pandemic of highly contagious Coronavirus. As an industry it is vital that we maintain a strong food supply to an already struggling and panicked nation and in light of this we want to reassure you that your farm animal veterinary team at The Park Vet Group will continue to provide you as close to “normal” services as is safe to do so over the coming weeks and months. To ensure the ongoing safety of yourselves, other clients, and our team we have made some changes to how we operate. We ask that you help us by engaging with these measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and keep our veterinary team supporting your businesses and providing essential services.

The Park Vet Group will be making every effort to maintain the health and welfare of your farm animals during this challenging time. We will be continuing visits to see your animals when you need us. This includes fertility visits, TB testing, all emergencies and sick animals.

In line with current advice, when our farm vets are not out visiting farms they are working from home, rather than from the office. We have cancelled farmer meetings temporarily.

You can help by minimising visits to the farm office. Ring ahead with your medicine orders; giving us at least 48 hours notice wherever possible.

When collecting medicines from the practice please stay in your car in the car park and give us a call to let us know you’re there. Someone will bring the medicines out to you.

In these unprecedented times, it’s important that we help to maintain the safety of both our vets and you, the farmer. It’s important that food production continues as uninterrupted as possible during current circumstances and we can all take steps to help.

  • Please inform us and APHA if you are self isolating and we will rearrange your test
  • If any member of your family is showing symptoms please let us know prior to your test
  • Please observe social distancing and ensure a 2m distance between the vet and yourself or any of your staff at all times
  • Please work with the minimum number of staff
  • If possible get a calf crush for calves and use either pallets or tyres in your crush for youngstock so they do not move about in the crush. It will not be possible for you to hold them while the vet tests them
  • We may have to do part tests if it is not possible to test all animals safely
  • You may be asked to wear a mask if the vet feels the 2m rule cannot be adhered to
  • The tests may take longer in order to observe social distancing. Once the animal is in the crush safely you may need to step away to let the vet in to do the test
  • Tests may have to be split over a number of days to ensure the vet can do it safely
  • The vet will not be able to enter your house or accept any form of refreshments
  • If the vet feels at any point that there is a danger to either party the test will be abandoned

Many thanks for your co-operation.