As Easter approaches we are lucky to be enjoying some warm spring sunshine and I am sure you are all looking forward to getting stock turned out. Those of you in the radial testing area will be aware of the need to have another TB test, which will be allocated to be done between 6 and 8 months after the last one. We are hoping that we will not find any more problems in this round of testing, but will have to repeat it all again this time next year.
Lambing seems to have given us as many problems, as usual, this year, with a slightly larger number of ewes needing Caesarean compared to last year. There have also been reports of sheep prolapsing before lambing, with the subsequent trauma resulting in rupture of the vaginal wall and the intestines coming out and the ewe dying. Ewes prolapsing before lambing is still problematic to prevent, with no one specific action being successful. A combination of age of ewe, number of lambs she is carrying, body condition score, a reduced exercise in housed ewes and diet are all factors involved. Other factors that can be involved include short tails (if they are docked too short), steep fields and reduced calcium levels. If you have a lot this year it may be worth looking at your management to see if we could make any changes that would help reduce the problem next year.
A large number of you have been trying to reduce the amount of antibiotic in the form of Orojet or Spectam given to newborn lambs to prevent watery mouth. Carefully selecting which lambs are treated (only dosing triplets or those lambs where the mother hasn’t got a good supply of colostrum) has seen no increase in losses from the infection. Next year you can be more selective again and try and reduce the amount you use even further. With the changes being made to herd health planning, and the need to produce an antibiotic report that justifies the antibiotics you are using there will be increasing pressure from both Red Tractor and supermarkets to produce animals that haven’t been given antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. Increasingly you will need laboratory evidence that such treatment is justified—currently, there is free testing of watery mouth cases available until the end of April. We can take a sample of the small intestine contents from 1 lamb which has died of suspected watery mouth and send it to the lab at Penrith where it will be tested to find out the cause and, more importantly, which antibiotics will kill it. This will provide good evidence that you are using the correct drug, blanket treatment of all animals in case of or to prevent infection cannot be supported.
Huskvac is still available to vaccinate your replacement heifers against lungworm. This is still the best way to reduce infection in your cows and is worth the investment. We have over the last number of years seen outbreaks of coughing in milk cows due to lungworm, with a resulting loss in milk production. In some cases, the cows have either died or had to be culled. Vaccination, with correct worm treatment in the first grazing season, will provide lifelong protection so is a worthwhile investment.
Leptospira vaccine is still difficult to source, with small quantities of ‘Spirovac’ arriving on the market at different times. If you are wanting to vaccinate your cows then place an order with us and we will allocate any that arrives. Leptavoid H is currently unavailable, with no information being given as to when it is likely to return to the market.
Herd Health plans require an antibiotic report as part of the annual review which we are able to provide for you. As part of this review, we have to consider any critical important antibiotics that you use eg. Naxcel, Excenel, Marbocyl, Cobactan. If you use them we need to provide laboratory evidence that no other drug will work to satisfy Red Tractor Standards.