It is good to have some warm spring sunshine for ewes and new born lambs to enjoy, after the wind rain and snow at the end of March. We hope that grass will start to grow and cattle will soon be turned out.
We have just started doing the 12 month TB tests around Lowick and The Green, hoping that there will be no more reactors found. With a clear test DEFRA are putting some herds back onto a 4 year testing interval, which will remove the need to premovement test. Whether 4 year testing intervals to control TB is enough is a separate issue outside our control. We have a lot of TB tests booked for the next few weeks and if you haven’t made an appointment yet it could be the middle of May before we will get yours done.
You will probably all have read about the changes DEFRA are introducing to TB testing, and the tendering process that has been involved. We are currently in negotiation with the company (xlfarmcare north) that has been allocated responsibility for completing all the TB testing in the north of England and our intention is to continue to do the work on all of your farms. We believe that as the local veterinary practice with local knowledge we are the best people to provide all the care for your livestock, including any statutory testing required. We should automatically receive the TB allocations as they are issued but if you want to be sure that we are instructed to test your cows you can register on the XL Farmcare website and follow the links for farmers at the top of the page. By selecting the ‘farmers preferred vet’ tab you can fill in your details and then nominate us as the practice that does your clinical work and that will do the TB testing as well.
Herd health plans continue to provide us with work, both for farm assurance purposes for beef and sheep farms and also for dairy companies. We appreciate that these can be time consuming to complete and in most cases will require some input from us. We are not able to ‘just sign the plan as the inspector is coming tomorrow’ without discussing it with you as we are ultimately responsible for the treatments and medicines you are giving your animals. We have blank templates that we can send you or you can download them from the Red Tractor Assurance website to fill in before we come which will allow us to discuss what you are currently doing. In most cases this is correct and acceptable but there are times where we can make changes that will both improve the performance of your stock and save you money.
Some farm assurance companies are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics in food producing animals and are targeting the blanket treatment of milk cows at drying off. The use of teat sealants in certain cows (those with a low cell count and that have not had mastitis during the current lactation) is one way to reduce the number of dry cow tubes used. The use of antibiotic foot baths to control digital dermatitis is also under discussion, and as the drug is being used ‘off licence’ then a statutory 7 day milk withdrawal period should be observed!!
Good foot hygiene is essential to help control digital dermatitis, with one survey noting fewer lesions in cows that were walked through 5% copper sulphate solution at 4 consecutive milkings every week. The inspectors are also reportedly keen to make sure that the animals are under our care which means that we have been on the farm and seen the livestock in the previous 12 months.
Also remember to worm your dogs and record it in your medicine book.
Watch out for scour in lambs – as the temperature increase there will be an increased risk of Nematodirus worms hatching on pastures that were grazed by sheep last year. The best treatment is still a white drench, but you need to be aware of coccidiosis as an alternative reason for scour. Nematodirus cannot be predicted or diagnosed from faecal egg counts as the damage will be done to the gut before the worms start to lay eggs.
Remember annual boosters for BVD and leptospirosis before turnout, as well as huskvac to replacement heifer calves.