Newsletter December 2014

Congratulations to Emma Sunderland and David Hatton who were married at the beginning of November. I am sure you will soon get used to the name and signature of the new Mrs Hatton in the office or on farm.

TB testing is in full swing with the 6 month tests being done around Bootle after the outbreak this spring. For those of you with a routine test due we will now need to test all female cattle on your holding over 6 weeks of age that are intended for breeding. This applies to both homebred and purchased heifers. We will of course still need to test all cows and breeding bulls (i.e. entire male animals over 12 months of age).

FERTILITY in dairy cows is a major problem at this time of year as cows have changed diet from grass to silage. The main reason is a lack of energy, depending on how good a quality silage you have. Feeding a high energy diet will increase blood supply to the liver resulting in the liver absorbing oestrogen and progesterone (the hormones that control fertility) and this will reduce the chances of the cow coming bulling. Fertility will also be affected by nutrition during the dry period as it is during this time the eggs will start developing for the oestrous cycles after calving. A protein level of 13-14% in the transition diet is sufficient with palatability of the ration and enough space for the cows to eat also being important. The addition of chopped straw (2-4cm in length so they cannot sort it) will keep the energy density low so helping to prevent a drop in dry matter intake around calving. Maintaining food intake during the periparturient period will help reduce the risk of the cow getting a displaced stomach and so give her a better start to the lactation.

High yielding cows will be in negative energy balance from calving to peak yield as they cannot eat enough food for milk production. Milk recording can give you an idea if your cows are performing as they should be. A cow with a 10,000 litre lactation should be reaching peak production of 45-50 litres after calving, dropping by approximately 3 litres per month until 305 days when she should be giving 20 litres or about 50% of peak yield. If your cows are giving a high peak yield and not giving 50% of this level at 305 days then you have a problem with your diet.

SHEEP PROBLEMS: Worms continue to cause problems in some flocks with scour and ill thrift being the main sign in weaned lambs. The recent decrease in temperature will reduce the levels of contamination on pasture so they should not pick up any more infection, but you need to be sure you have removed all worms to help them to thrive.

Fluke has been less of an issue this year than recently but still be aware of sudden death due to cases of acute fluke infection.

We have seen our first cases of scab this year! As always when you have itchy sheep you need to determine whether it is due to lice or scab before you go to the expense of treating them all with the wrong drug.

We have been advised of potential supply problems with ‘Scabivax’ next year and have been in discussions with the manufacturers to try and receive enough for everyone. The plan is to supplement the shortage of ‘Scabivax Forte’ with imported supplies of ‘Scabivax’, the original product you may have used a number of years ago. Orders will be filled with whichever product we have in stock at the time.

There is also a problem with ‘Leptavoid’ which is currently unavailable, and will mean a shortage of all the leptospira vaccines currently on the market. Orders will be filled on a first come first served basis when stocks are available (although we do not know when that will be), so the sooner you let us know how much you need the more likely we will be to able to provide it.