We are pleased to say we have a new veterinary surgeon starting this month – Bryony Garner who has recently qualified from the University of Budapest. We have thankfully found someone local as Bryony was brought up in Cockermouth, so should be used to Cumbrian ways!! We have also got Carly-Jade Holland helping out in the office occasionally as Fiona Patterson is on maternity leave having given birth to a bouncing baby girl.
TB testing continues to occupy a large majority of our time with unfortunately one reactor having been found in the latest round of radial testing. We are waiting for DEFRA to decide if this will extend the radial testing zone. There is also a problem in the Cartmel Fell/Witherslack area with a number of farms in that area being under restrictions to TB. NFU organised a meeting at the Newby Bridge Hotel to try and offer some advice on reducing the risk of TB entering your herd. The take-home message that the testing regime and spread of disease, particularly if wildlife is involved, is outside of our control. There are however a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of disease entering your herd.
Cattle movements are responsible for a lot of diseases spread with 400—500 cattle coming into Cumbria every month. A large number of these come from the High-Risk Area (the south-west corner of England as far north as Cheshire and Derbyshire). If you are purchasing an animal then determining the TB status of the herd of origin is essential (as well as BVD, Leptospira, Neospora, Johne’s etc). Research has shown that moving 1 animal onto your holding can mean that your cattle will have links to a 1000 other farms via different movements!
Asking when the last confirmed case on the holding was is the most useful piece of information as well as when the last test was. Was this test clear or were there any inconclusive reactor animals that had to be tested again? If there are animals to retest then this herd is a potential problem as a large number of these that pass the retest 60 days later will go on to develop TB at a later date.
As well as looking at cattle movements you can also look at your own farm. Having a double fence 3 metres wide will prevent direct contact with neighbouring cattle. Consider rented grazing– has the previous grazier had a problem? TB can survive 3 months in soil or 6 months in stored slurry so letting someone spread slurry on your land is a risk.
Farms in the south-west where it is known that badgers are also affected are encouraged to fence off badger setts and also to prevent badgers gaining access to buildings and feed stores. A badger can go through a gap of 7.5cm or 3” wide. Raising water troughs is also encouraged as an infected badger can spread TB in its saliva which can survive in the water trough for 60 days. Thankfully to date, there is no evidence of TB in the badger population in this area and hopefully, it will stay that way.
Sheep will need their vaccine to help prevent abortion in the next few weeks. We have to order Toxovax which comes in 20 and 50-dose packs direct from the manufacturer and it usually takes 1-2 weeks to arrive. It has a short shelf life so will need to use within 7-9 days of arrival. We have been advised that there may be problems in getting Enzovax this year—currently, we are only able to get 10 dose vials. If you know how many sheep you have to vaccinate and can do it now then please let us know and we will try and get enough for you.