Newsletter August 2015

Now August has arrived it will soon be time to start thinking about preparation for autumn—sales, housing, tupping etc, although I’m sure you are all more concerned with getting hay and silage finished and harvest completed. We also need to be aware of the risk of summer mastitis in your dry cows and heifers, which should ideally be on pastures away from trees and water courses to reduce the risk. These animals should be checked twice daily for signs of mastitis so treatment can be instigated as soon as possible, although saving the quarter is still difficult, if not impossible.
The TB situation is still ongoing, with 2 more animals (on different farms) having been slaughtered after failing to pass a retest. Culture is continuing and we are awaiting the results– thankfully the previous cow taken was culture negative so no further restrictions have been placed.
Another reminder that we will no longer be able to take drugs to Churchwalk in Ulverston every day, but will manage it 1or 2 days a week so please remember that when you are placing your order.


Pneumonia is an ever-present problem on many farms during the autumn months, but vaccination has helped to control outbreaks of disease. If you have problems in young animals  then  Rispoval intranasal can be used  in calves from 9 days of age and will offer protection against 2 respiratory viruses PI3 and RSV, with immunity lasting 3 months. If your problems are in older cattle then Rispoval 4 will help protect against BVD and IBR as well as PI3 and RSV.  Calves should be over 12 weeks old and need 2 doses of vaccine given 4 weeks apart, with the second dose ideally being given 2 weeks before housing.  Combining this with a worm treatment will also help reduce pneumonia problems in housed cattle.   If you sell store cattle or suckler calves then the ‘Surecalf’ scheme is running again this year, with the aim being to increase the value of vaccinated calves at the autumn sales. If you are interested then contact us here or at www.surecalf.co.uk.


Despite the poor lamb price at present you should be considering getting ready for lambing time next year.  Abortion vaccines to protect against enzootic abortion and toxoplasma need to be given 1 month before tupping. Orders can now be taken, and we have been told that the manufacturers do not envisage any supply problems this year, so we hope that proves to be right.

We would still recommend placing your order as soon as you know how many doses you need.

Don’t forget your tups as they will need to be in optimum condition for working.  Any foot problems should be sorted out now, rather than the day you let them go.  Remember sperm production takes 8 weeks so any health problems now may well impinge on fertility at the crucial time.  If you have doubts if the tups are working and fertile then we can check a semen sample here at the surgery—give us a call to arrange a suitable time.

Herd Health

Health plans are ready for reviewing and updating on a number of farms. Many of you will regard this as an exercise to keep either the dairy company or FABBL satisfied, but it is an opportunity for you to discuss any problems you may have on the farm, from lameness issues to mastitis/ high cell counts or pneumonia problems.  We can also provide  independent advice on worm and fluke control, what are the best products to use at different times of year, and which animals actually need treating.  The majority of adult sheep are given a worm treatment more times during the year than is actually necessary!!

Other areas that require consideration are Johnes control and dry cow therapy.  Johnes disease is a major problem in some dairy herds and milk companies are requesting evidence of testing or level of infection in the herd. One way to determine how prevalent Johnes is in your herd is to do a 30 cow screen ( testing  individual milk samples from 30 cows for levels of antibody).  If you get this done then we will be happy to receive a copy of the results and provide you with advice on where you go from here.

Blanket treatment of all cows at drying off with antibiotic is another issue which is under review, with concerns being expressed that treating all cows is over use of antibiotic.  Teat sealants are an alternative, but these can only be used in cows with a low cell count and have not had a case of mastitis during the current lactation.  We can discuss this with you in more detail when we review your health plan.