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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.


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


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.


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.