Our dairy focus this month has been on the peri-parturient period with the launch of Imrestor and re-launch of Kexxtone boluses from Elanco. We have organised a farmer’s meeting, aimed primarily at dairy farmers on Tuesday 18th of October at 7:30 p.m at Grizebeck Village Hall that all are welcome to attend. The focus of the meeting will be the critical time in the production cycle between dry off and early lactation. During this time, every dairy cow experiences a huge increase in energy demand, leaving her in negative energy balance. In addition, she will undergo vast hormonal and physical changes which can reduce her immune function, leaving her vulnerable to numerous diseases after calving and cause reduced productivity.
Kexxtone boluses are designed to be used in a targeted fashion to tackle the first of these two problems. They should be administered 3-4 weeks prior to calving in animals at high-risk of ketosis (slow fever), they work by slowly releasing monensin into the rumen. Monensin works by altering the rumenal flora to increase production of propionate, a useful glucose precursor to increase energy production and prevent or limit the effects of the potential negative energy balance which can have a detrimental effect on cow health and importantly production and fertility. Even if you don’t see many cases of clinical ketosis on your farm, the sub-clinical effects will be lengthening calving to conception intervals and reducing yields. Test strips are available to test milk of newly calved cows to see if you have an underlying energy deficiency that may not be obvious but will be affecting performance.
Imrestor is an immune stimulant designed to tackle the second of these two issues. By increasing neutrophil numbers ( a type of white blood cell) in the circulation it is designed to assist the cow in fighting early cases of mastitis, metritis and preventing retained cleansings. The product is a course of two injections, given 7 days prior to and within 24 hours of calving.
For more information on either of these products or advice on how to monitor and decide if Kexxtone or Imrestor would be useful as part of your dry cow management come along on the 18th October—food will be provided so please book your place by Thursday 13th or ask one of us on farm.
Calf pneumonia is another area to consider as we move into autumn, with housing and ventilation having a major influence on number and severity of cases. Vaccination is an aid to prevention, with calves needing to be vaccinated 2 weeks before the high-risk period, and they may need 2 doses of vaccine 1 month apart. You should be ordering your first dose now. For calves that have been out at pasture then they should also be treated for lungworm to reduce lung damage and inflammation. Another tool available for helping to control pneumonia is fever tags. These are ear tags that have a small antenna that goes into the calf’s ear and will record its temperature regularly. If the core temperature goes above the normal range over a 6 hour period then a light will flash on the tag, allowing you to take action before the calf is obviously ill. This early treatment will reduce the amount of lung damage that will occur, and so hopefully prevent those chronic recurring cases that eventually die. We currently have 1 farmer who has started to use them, so it will be interesting to see if there are fewer losses, and what, if any, reduction there is in antibiotic usage.
Sheep abortion vaccines are still available for those of you who have not yet ordered, although we have been advised that we can only get Enzovax in 20 dose or 10 dose bottles, whereas Toxovax is only available in 50 doses.
Remember your tups also need to be prepared for work, with teeth, toes and testicles all in good working order. He is not going to perform if you give him the once over as you let him go with your ewes, so it would be worth checking him 6-8 weeks before to make sure all is OK.