As we head into early spring the news is that after 18 months Jack Porteous is heading to the highest market town in England, having been tempted back to his home practice. We have a replacement coming to help us through March and hope to get further help for the remainder of the spring. TB testing continues to occupy some of our time, and we have just found the first inconclusive reactors of the winter in the south Furness area. We hope that these will pass at the retest in a couple of months. Meanwhile, there have been no reports of any further reactors being found in the area around Seascale.
Lambing time will be starting in earnest shortly—have you got your supplies in and ready? Calcium, lubrel, gloves, energy drench for twin lamb, penicillin for those difficult lambings are all likely to be needed. Dopram drops to help revive those slow lambs are not available as they are no longer being manufactured, with no alternative either. Spectam scourhalt or Orojet is another drug that you may have used in previous years to help control watery mouth in new born lambs. As with all antibiotics the blanket treatment of giving a dose to every lamb when it is born is not recommended. We are encouraging all of you to look at how you can reduce the use of these drugs so they will remain effective in the future. Laboratory reports of samples from newborn lambs that had E coli isolated (the cause of watery mouth) found 60% to be resistant to Spectam and 70% resistant to long-acting oxytet. Can you reduce usage by not using any in the first 1-2 weeks of lambing, or not treating any single lambs? Key to preventing watery mouth is colostrum and hygiene.
Lambs should receive an adequate supply of good quality colostrum—50mls per kg bodywt as soon as possible and 200mls per kg in the first 24 hrs. If the ewe has none there are replacements available, some of better quality than others.
Reducing stress by delaying tail docking and castrating until 24hrs old will help ensure they suck enough.
Colostrum should be of good quality, which you can measure by a colostrometer, but having ewes in correct body condition, fed an appropriate diet and correctly vaccinated against clostridial diseases will all help.
Lambing pens should be clean and dry, with an adequate amount of bedding, draught-free, with all equipment clean and disinfected before use is also essential.
Keeping good records of any ill lambs and reasons for any deaths will help you make changes for next year. Which shed were they in? What was the age and breed of the ewe? Was she lame or in poor body condition which would affect colostrum quality? Was it a single twin or triplet?
Give us a ring at the office to discuss further and see if we can reduce your expenditure on drugs at lambing time. Giving antibiotics at birth can affect the gut flora and increase the risk of joint ill.
Slow fever in dairy cows can be a problem in some herds, with any clinical cases being the tip of the iceberg. There may be a number of other cows not performing as they should but not showing obvious signs. Elanco, one of the drug companies, may be able to provide you with a ketosis report which will tell you how many of your recently calved cows are affected by slow fever. If you milk record with NMR then they will produce a report for you if you give them consent to access your records. If you are interested then give us a call to discuss it. If you have a number of cows which suggest there is a problem then we can help to improve performance in your herd.
Is your herd due for vaccination against BVD and leptospira? Bovidec is no longer being manufactured but there is still a small quantity available. The alternative is BOVELA. Cattle need a single dose each year ( replacements also only need single dose). It is more expensive than Bovidec, but will protect against BVD type 1 and 2. Cows should ideally be vaccinated 3 weeks before service.