At the start of October with sales of sheep and suckler calves well underway thoughts will be turning to tupping time and then housing.
Most of you should have ordered your abortion vaccines by now as ewes will need to be vaccinated at least 4 weeks before you put the tups in. Orders can still be taken for both Enzovax and Toxovax. Hopefully, you will all have thought about your tups before now and checked them over to make sure all is in order—mouth, body condition, feet and testicles. If you have any concerns regarding the testicles then we can examine them and get a semen sample to make sure they are going to work satisfactorily this year.
As you prepare to house cattle, have you given thoughts to any problems in your herd last year—particularly pneumonia? There are a number of different vaccines on the market which can be used to help control pneumonia, and these are best given before the high-risk period ie. housing. Rispoval 4 is one of the main vaccines we have been using and unfortunately is currently unavailable. Zoetis, the manufacturers, have advised an alternative protocol using Rispoval intranasal and an IBR vaccine, or we can help devise a different regime using other products on the market. You should also consider treating calves for lungworm before housing, as any that are still present will increase the risk of lung damage and subsequent pneumonia.
Lungworm has caused problems in a number of dairy herds over the last couple of months, with the main symptom being coughing, with some cows also having reduced milk yield and showing signs of pneumonia. There are a number of products with zero milk withdrawal that can be used in milking cows to treat lungworm.
A provisional fluke forecast has been released by NADIS, suggesting that the risk of infection this year is high. The current best practice is to check for evidence of fluke infection before you dose your sheep. This can be done by getting abattoir reports from lambs sent for slaughter to see if there is any evidence of fluke in their livers. Equally as useful is looking at the liver of any dead ewes or lambs you may have, again to check for evidence of fluke. The other option is to blood sample a group of lambs which we can send to the lab to look for antibodies to fluke—if positive then we know they have been exposed to infection so we can then discuss treatment of the flock.
Blood samples could also be used on first season grazing cattle or we can test faeces from 6 weeks after housing, again to look for evidence of recent infection. As I am sure you are aware, there are a number of different products on the market with different efficacy against different ages of fluke. It is worth using the most appropriate product, depending on when you intend to treat cattle after housing. Remember there are some products that cannot be used for treating dairy cattle, including dry cows and in-calf heifers and if they are dosed with them then the milk can never be used for human consumption.
We have almost finished the 12-month radial testing around the Ulverston area but unfortunately, there have been a couple of inconclusive animals and a couple of reactor animals. These have not shown lesions at slaughter, and we are still waiting for culture results on some, but thankfully there has been no extension to the radial zone to date. Hopefully, we can complete the rest of the testing in this area over the next few months with no more problems being found.
Mastitis tubes are still difficult to obtain, with no sign of Tetra delta coming back just yet. The effects of COVID 19 seem to have had an impact on a number of other products for both farm and small animals. We have had one rep tell us that some of their products are made in Mexico, and the factory is now working at greatly reduced capacity so they are only making some of the drugs that they used to!