This month sees the return of Fiona Patterson to the office after having been on maternity leave, with thanks to Hayley Fell who is moving on to pastures new having been with us for the last 12 months. As we start February we are continuing with the routine TB tests in the area which, thankfully are not showing up any problems. There is an outbreak in the Cartmel area which has given us a couple more tests to do.
Lambing time has started for some, and we have already delivered a few lambs. There has been a couple of lambs reported that have been deformed and suspicious of Schmallenberg, but those that have been tested have been negative so far. It is worth considering if you have a lamb that you can’t deliver and seems abnormal then the ewe may need a caesarean in order to save her. As always we are available for any sheep that are struggling to give birth, and are happy for you to bring them to the surgery to keep costs down. Please telephone before you set off so we can arrange a time to meet you here when you arrive.
Lamb deaths are still one of the major losses in the sheep industry nationally, with perinatal mortality figures of 15% being reported in some flocks. That equates to 81 lambs dying in the first week of life in a 300 ewe flock that has scanned at 180%. Do you know how many lambs you are losing and why? Keeping a simple tally chart of lamb deaths, together with age of death and, if possible, cause of death will give you a lot of useful information. We can then look at the figures with you and see if there is a common cause where we can make some changes to help reduce losses as time goes on or for lambing next year.
Fluke continues to be a problem on some farms, with some flocks still showing signs of active fluke infection even after dosing with triclabendazole (Fasinex or equivalent). Fluke will cause damage to the liver of sheep, which will have a knock on effect on pregnant ewes, increasing the risk of twin lamb disease in some ewes, the birth of smaller lambs in others and also the lack of adequate good quality colostrum.
As I am sure you all know colostrum management is essential for lamb survival, with a lamb needing to receive adequate QUANTITY of sufficient QUALITY QUICKLY enough. As a rough guide a 4kg lamb should be fed 400mls within the first 24 hrs of which 200mls should be given in the first 6 hours of life. Powdered colostrum substitutes should contain vitamin E, fat to maintain energy as well as immunoglobulins to provide antibodies to the new lamb. Independent research at Cambridge University suggests Nettex Ultra and Vetplus Lamaid and Ovicol.
LUNGWORM was a problem on a number of dairy farms again last year, resulting in reduced milk yield and in some cases dead cows. Cattle develop husk after eating grass contaminated with infective larvae from the worm Dictyocaulus viviparous. Once in the gut the larvae migrate through its wall to the lungs where they begin laying eggs after several weeks. A period of mild wet weather, like last summer, can create a dramatic increase in lungworm populations which can be very harmful to any stock. Bovilis Huskvac is a live vaccine made from irradiated larvae which will not cause disease but will stimulate immunity in the vaccinated animal. This immunity needs to be boosted by the exposure of the grazing cattle to natural infection, so the over use of wormers should be avoided. Calves should be fully vaccinated 2 weeks before they are turned out, and require 2 doses given 4 weeks apart. They can have their first dose once they are 8 weeks old. As it is a live vaccine it will have a limited shelf life so we will only get it in when ordered. Please contact us at the office when you know how many doses of vaccine you need. If you have had lungworm problems or have not used the vaccine before we are happy to discuss its use with you first.