December 2017

As we approach the end of another year we are presented with the usual array of problems. Pneumonia continues to be a problem in calves, with both suckler and dairy animals affected.  Early treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs as well as antibiotics is essential to reduce the amount of lung damage and to get the calf back to full health as quickly as possible.  Prevention is a combination of good ventilation, reducing stress, maintaining groups of similar ages as older animals can spread an infection to younger ones, good nutrition and regular cleaning out to reduce the build-up of ammonia levels.

We have completed 6 month TB tests in some of the herds around the breakdown areas at Seascale and Cartmel and thankfully all have tested clear.  Remember if your herd is due a routine herd test then we will need to test all animals over 6 weeks intended for breeding as well as your cows and bulls.


Thanks to the terrible weather this last 4 months there are a lot of geld cows turning up at PD sessions. If beef cows did not get pregnant by mid-August a lot of them have stopped cycling and have remained empty. Because they have not shown signs of oestrus behaviour these have wrongly been assumed to be in calf. The advice is to PD check your cows if you have not already done so. Dairy cows have had the same problem if out grazing i.e. poor conception rates coupled with poor oestrus expression and detection. If silage quality is poor then these fertility problems may be improved if nutrition management is very good and targeted at cows from 1 month before calving through to successful conception. There are several options using hormone synchronisation programmes to help circumvent poor oestrus detection. Rather than continuing to lose time with cows not showing oestrus naturally these hormones can get these cows ready to serve on a predicted day.

Related to this we advise checking a bulk milk sample for BVD, Leptospirosis, IBR and fluke if you have not had one done in the last 6 months. Suckler herds should consider blood sampling stirks for BVD.

Liver Fluke risk this autumn is high due to the wet summer and autumn so the advice is to treat sheep with a product to kill immature fluke if you have not already done so.  Risk of repeated infection will remain high whilst it is still mild and wet so repeat treatments may be necessary. If you are unsure if there is a fluke problem then checking the livers of any sheep that die will help give you the answer, you should also be able to use feedback from the abattoir when you send lambs or cattle for slaughter.

This autumn has seen a large number of lambs condemned, either totally or offal only, from a number of farms due to infection with a tapeworm, cysticercus.  This causes cysts in the offal or meat of the affected lamb and can result in total condemnation, which means no payment for the animal.  Cysticercus is spread by dogs– the dog can be infected by scavenging or eating an infected lamb.  The cysts in the carcase then develop into worms in the dogs gut, laying eggs which are passed in the faeces contaminating the pastures, allowing the sheep to pick up the infection.  There is no effective treatment once the lamb is infected,  the only way to control infection is regular worming of your dog with a product that is effective against tapeworm. This is necessary whether you sell your own lambs fat or through the store ring.  Feedback from the abattoir will list the ear numbers of any condemnations, so the farm of origin of the lamb can be identified.