News From FarmVets SouthWest

July Newsletter from Farm Vets South West

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FarmVets SouthWest - July Newsletter


We have managed to get hold of 800 doses of Enzovax this year and this will be dispensed on a first come, first served basis while we still have stocks. 

Please ring the practice soon if you want to order it, it is disappearing already.

A Clarification

In last months article, ”Red meat causes cancer…” it was mentioned that no qualifications are needed to claim to be a nutritionists.  This is true but it is important to point out that “Nutritional Therapists” are properly qualified and are registered with their governing body, the “Complementary and Natural Health Care Council”

Payment Methods

Just a reminder that we can take other forms of payment than cheques.  Cheques are still a common way of paying and we are happy for you to continue with this despite what the high street is doing.

However, there are other ways that are easier and more straight forward e.g direct debits or automated transfers such as BACS. 

TB Reactor Tagging

We are now obliged by DEFRA to tag any TB reactors we find during your TB test with a special tag that remains in the animal and also collects a small tissue sample which has to be sent off and stored for DNA analysis.  We are not joking, as strange as it sounds, it is now compulsory.  This has been deemed necessary by the powers that be to stop fraud.

Some farmers have apparently been swapping ear tags on reactors after the vet has left the farm. Please do not take this tagging personally, we would rather not have do it.  As always, we are just the messenger, we don’t want to give you bad news.  TB testing is the government’s way of trying to control TB or it’s way of looking like it is trying to control TB.  Possibly, they only want to look like they are looking like they are trying to control TB.  In any case, things are they the way they are at the moment. 

The Welsh Assembly government have further delayed the proposed badger cull with the announcement of another scientific review.  Since there is little new evidence it is difficult to come to another conclusion than the obvious one, that this is another case of political cowardice.  DEFRA have said that they will be announcing their decision on a targeted cull in England at the end of July.  

New parlour?  Remember the footbath

It’s encouraging to see how many new/extended parlours are going up on our farms. But when planning new buildings it's well worth while having a think about incorporating a user-friendly foot bath. Remember the easier it is to use, the more often that you will use it. On our bespoke Lameness plans we inevitably recommend increased frequency of bathing (Formalin is most effective when used twice daily, every day!). With that in mind, below are a few points on footbath design and use.

Þ Keep the footbath away from the exit to the parlour. Being at list one side of the parlour away means milking is not held up by poor cow flow in the footbath. If Formalin is to be used the footbath must be far enough away from the parlour so that those milking cannot smell it.

Þ Pre-wash bath. These are always helpful, even if you wash feet in the parlour. Water can be used (but ideally, use the same agent as is used in the actual bath). Anecdotally cows are more likely to dung in the pre bath, keeping the second bath cleaner.

Þ Make it wide. Being wide enough to handle two cows at once means that one reluctant cow does not hold up cow flow. Cows find it reassuring to pass hazards in groups.

Þ Make it easy to drain and clean.

Þ Know your volume. It’s surprising how often those making up the footbath solution do not know the volume of the bath. Accuracy and concentration of product is very important.

Þ Make it cow friendly. Concrete baths are more acceptable to the cows. Plastic baths are less popular. Avoid ridges on the floor, they are unnecessary, slow cow flow and do not improve effectiveness.

Footbathing is dealt with in more detail as part of our Lameness visits

Want to improve your fertility…Have you thought about getting “the snip”?

Oestrous detection is a time consuming business on farm and with 70% of heats happening in the evening and night (even farmers have to sleep) some sort of heat detection is a worthwhile investment.  Automatic/electronic aids can be expensive in terms of initial outlay and Kamar and other adhesive aids need updating everyday.  A under-rated alternative is to have a teaser animal which is a bull that has had “the snip” also known as a vasectomy operation. 

Vasectomy is the removal of the ductus deferens (tube which transports sperm). These animals still have healthy testicles and have the same libido as a normal bull so they will seek out bulling cows as effectively as an entire bull.  Teaser bulls will serve the cows but will be infertile allowing you to use AI. The key is to choose a young, healthy bull of a quiet breed, the op should be done by 9 months of age. In his first few years working, he will be keen and so help you a great deal, instead of observing all the cows several times during the day simply spot who the teaser is with. Alternatively, still use paints/chalks or kamars with the cows or fit a chin ball marker to the bulls and he will paint cows he mounts with his chin.

There are two other advantages to using a teaser, the first is that the presence of an entire male will increase bulling activity of females in the same shed, even if they are not in his group. Secondly, he will be on the lacatation cows’ high energy diet and so will continue to grow. When he gets mature or lazy with age he will be fat enough to finish and so you will recover your investment.

There are potential problems though as a teaser can affect lameness by being over keen serving cows indoors (this problem can be overcome by removing cows as they are spotted in bulling). They can also spread sexually transmitted infections so its best to have a vet check your potential teaser and if possible use a home bred animal. 

The operation will cost in the region of £150-£200, but the potential savings in open days could be huge. Have a think and feel free to discuss it with any of the vets.