News From FarmVets SouthWest

FarmVets SouthWest May 2011 Newsletter

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Farm Vets South West - Newsletter May 2011

Lamb Milk Replacer

Ill health in lambs has been reported after feeding some batches of Frank Wright Trouw Nutrition International’s whey and skim milk replacers.  The range of symptoms include sweating, dermatitis, urine scalding, stiff gait and recumbancy between 3 days and 4 weeks old. This is consistent with excessive     vitamin A supplementation. According to the company, only batches beginning with 224, 225, 226, 227, 228 and 229 are affected.  If you are experiencing problems after feeding this product please contact your supplier but don’t forget that other diseases may causes these signs so contacting us is also worthwhile. 

Fly Strike 

The recent hot weather has resulted in large numbers of flies and many cases of fly strike in the area have already been reported. 

Please contact the office or Mike Price for deals on Butox Swish/Dysect.

Dairy Co Healthy Feet Project 

Dairy Co. have launched their healthy feet project which they have organised on very similar lines to the lameness visits Eoghan does.  

Dairy Co expect the final cost to the farmer to be in the region of £1,000 per investigation.  

A FVSW investigation with three visits and a full farm report is currently working out between £250 and £300.  This is a promotional rate that will not last forever though. 

Price Changes/Information

The price of Orbeseal 120 syringe box has been reduced by £10 per box

Ivomec super injection 1 litre pack now comes with a £25 cash-back voucher and the 500ml pack comes with a £10 cash-back voucher


Copper sulphate is pretty expensive at the moment but we do stock Lincocin Powder which at £29 per pot is a very cost effective treatment for digital    dermatitis.

Sexed Semen

Many of you have heard of an alternative to conventional sexed semen called “Heifer Plus”.  The           distributors claim that using this technique results in a heifer to bull ration of 70:30 plus a 10% lift in     conception rates.  It is claimed that the female sperm are boosted by means of an enzyme which leads to them reaching the egg before the male sperm. 

Whilst this sounds great a word of caution is needed.  We have contacted the manufacturers in America “EmLab Genetics” for further information since we like to see reliable, independent research on any new product.  We have been informed that no such research has been undertaken and none is planned, the     stated reason being that they wish to protect the technology.  This is an unusual stance to take.

As a result, we have not been able to independently substantiate their claims and we will not be able to comment on the product until calves hit the ground. Please contact the office if you have any questions

Lameness in Dairy Cattle

Below are a few bullet points on lameness in cattle. 


  • A direct effect is difficult to prove but acidosis can lead to reduced availability of certain important vitamins, e.g. Biotin, which increases solar ulcers and white line disease
  • The mechanics of feeding, e.g. how and where she is fed, does have a direct effect upon lameness.  If feed space is at a premium then some cows will stand for longer without feeding and others will eat faster and end up with acidosis. 
  • Thin cows have smaller fat cushions in their feet which exacerbates the effects of having to stand for long periods.
  • High maize diets tend to produce more sticky faeces and increase the risk of  digital dermatitis. (I would say that well digested dung shouldn’t be sticky)

Heifer Management

  • Heifers that suffer from a solar ulcer in their first lactation and twice as likely to suffer from it again the next lactation and four times more likely to suffer again as they get older. 
  • Train heifers to lactation housing, collecting yard and parlour before calving.This can be as simple as letting them wander around the area without people/cows/machines around.
  • Introduce heifers to the milking group at night. Pour 100mls of vinegar down their backs, this helps with socialising
  • Introduce heifers in pairs (or more) if possible.They do remember their “friends” and this decreases the stress of movement.This effect has been noted in freshly calves cows too.

Recent Studies on Lame Cows

  • Lame cows have higher milk yields.This may seem wrong but the point is that cows with higher milk yields are more likely to be lame. 
  • Higher yielding cows will eat more and for longer, will stand for longer at milking and also are likely to be big and so will struggle in cubicles more.  So the higher milk yield, more lameness link is not straightforward. 
  • Lame cows spend 70 minutes less feeding each day and feed less frequently (16 times a day) than sound cows (26 times a day).  Lame cows tend to slug feed meals leading to acidosis.   
  • Lame cows feed at night when energy density of the diet is lower due to sorting.
  • Milk yield loss is eventually 8 litres per day due to lower feed intake.  Fertility losses are considerable too.

Cow Tacks

  • Cow tracks should be 5m wide for less than 120 cows, 5.5m for 120-250, 6m for 250 to 350 cows.
  • Surface should be non-abrasive, well drained, as short as possible and wider near yards.The edges of the track should be rounded or crowned.
  • Don’t chase cows up the track or force them into the parlour using the backing gate. I know of one farm (not in Somerset) that has angled the bottom backing gate to hit cows in the leg below the hock.  It did not speed up parlour entry. 
  • Collecting yards should be 1.8m2 per cow for holsteins and 1.4m2 for jerseys.  


  • Cows trimmed once a year are twice as likely to go lame as those trimmed twice a year.
  • Hock lesions indicate uncomfortable beds which in turn lead to more claw lesions
  • Best cost:benefit ration from fitting rubber in collecting yards first then high cow flow areas/areas of twisting.