News From FarmVets SouthWest

September Newsletter 2011

Posted on

September 2011 Newsletter

Honiton Show

FVSW would like to thank everybody who came to visit our stand at the Honiton Show.  Despite a wet start it turned into a very nice day.  We were fortunate enough to win first prize for an agricultural trade stand on our first year at the show.  Much of the credit for this goes to Maggie and Sue who work at our Yarcombe office and we thank them for their hard work.

Congratulations to Brian Miller and Mrs Durman who both enjoyed considerable success with their livestock entries that day. 

South West Healthy Livestock Initiative: Johne’s Disease

We will be holding two more Johne’s meetings for dairy farmers, one at Bridgwater and one at Yarcombe.  These meetings are the first stage to getting involved with the SWHLI scheme for Johne’s Disease. 

The Bridgwater meeting will take place at the market on Wednesday 21st  September starting at 7.00pm.

The Yarcombe meeting will be at the FVSW Yarcombe office on Wednesday 14th September at 7.00pm.

Light refreshments will be available.  Please register your interest ASAP or ring David on 07815296212 if you have any questions. 


Milk 1 vs Rehydration Drinks 0

Chalk one up for milk in the on-going battle between milk, water and sports drinks for superiority when it comes to rehydrating people after physical exercise.  Researchers at McMasters University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, have found that milk is best when it comes to rehydrating active children.

“Children become dehydrated during exercise, and it’s important they get enough fluids, particularly before going into a second round of a game. Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes,” says Brian Timmons,research director of the Child Health and Exercise Medicine Program at McMaster University. The McMasters University research replicates previous UK research that showed milk was better atrehydrating people than water or a carbohydrate sports beverage.

“We don't know the mechanism yet, but we believe that the protein and other dairy components cause the water to be slowly released from the stomach, which would slow absorption — sort of a slow-release mechanism that allows for longer-term retention of the water,” Miller says. “When water or a sports drink are consumed, the water is rapidly absorbed. As a result, the kidneys work to remove what it sees as too much.”

Quick fix for Footrot in sheep.

We all too aware of the annual battle against foot-rot in our flocks. The tried and tested regime of antibiotic treatment, foot trimming and foot bathing is still best, but can be labour intensive. With this   approach affected animals need to be separated and foot bathed at weekly intervals. Speak to a vet about a foot rot eradication plan.

Alternatively there is another easy option that really works.

Blanket treatment of the entire flock with Micotil as a one-off injection has shown impressive early responses, without the need for foot bathing or other antibiotic treatments. Improvements can be huge and last entire winters. The trick is to do every sheep at the same time to try to eliminate the bug (dichelobacternodosus) from the farm. This works well because carrier sheep are a significant source of infection. Micotil is a vet only drug and so a visit is required but with planning, lots of sheep can be injected in a short time. Depending on time spent injecting, costs should be between £3 and £4 per sheep but savings on lameness, not to mention on your time make this treatment worth considering.

Now is a good time to treat with most fat lambs gone and preparation for tupping well underway.

Micotil also works very well in combination with Footvax, the foot-rot vaccine, and a few management changes.  Ultimately, foot-rot can be eradicated from farms to the benefit of the your sheep, your pocket and the public image of farming. 

Teat-end condition and scores

Teats ends are the first up defence against mastitis. If they are not in good condition it will predispose to mastitis problems in the lactation and the dry period. The teat end has numerous defences, during lactation the streak canal (the hole the milk comes through) can close tightly to stop bacteria gaining entry and the skin of the canal shears off during milking which carries with it any bacteria that may have gained a foot hold.  It is also just being appreciated that some bacteria have a protective function against the “nasties” at the teat end.  During the dry period a plug is formed to seal the teat end.

Strep dysgalactia is the classic bug associated with poor teat condition. Teat end damage can be caused by adverse milking machine function, excessive vacuum fluctuations and pulsation issues. More commonly it can be a sign of “over-milking” i.e. leaving the unit on too long after she has milked out. Recently we have also seen it as a result of putting the unit on too soon, i.e. before she has let her milk down. If you are noticing roughened/damaged teat ends then chat to us about scoring the herd at milking. Scores can then be used to monitor teat condition in the herd. This is a must after moving into a new parlour/following alterations to the parlour.

We use a scale of 1-5 (1 is normal and 5 is severe hyperkeratosis), a score of 3 or more is associated with an increased risk of that quarter having a high cell count.  Hyperkeratosis (thickening or spiky skin growth at the teat end) also makes pre and post milking teat disinfection less effective.

 New Tesco Dairy Standards 

We expect that all Tesco milk suppliers have received their new standards information.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.  If standards are issued then farm performance will be expected to improve, which is where we can help.  Also, some of the information is to be gathered by the milk recording organisations so please make sure all the information you supply is accurate.  It is too easy to confuse cull rate with replacement rate (no, they aren’t the same thing) or death rate and this may reflect unfairly on your farm. 

These standards may seem irksome to begin with but progress on these fronts will increase farm profitability as well as animal health and welfare.  He who pays the piper calls the tune and all that….