Knowledge Lab

    Harry Eastwood BVetMed MRCVS
    A quick guide to infectious calf scours
    Scouring in calves is not something you can easily get away from and is often considered a normal part of having young animals in your care. I’ll be the first to admit that even the most diligent of people are unlikely to prevent scouring completely but I’m certain in a lot of cases could have been improved or avoided all together. This is a quick guide to refresh the memory or get you thinking about what problems you may be facing.
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    22/09/2017
    Vaccination - benefits and pitfalls
    Animal health and welfare is a growing focus with active encouragement for improvement through disease control and potential eradication. Vaccination protocols alongside biosecurity remain a vital way of controlling and eventually eradicating viral disease on farms. In turn they improve animal welfare and efficiency of production by reducing incidence of disease or reducing clinical signs. Vaccinations can also help reduce our dependence on antibiotics since prevention is better than cure! Vaccination leads to increased immunity against disease causing pathogens reducing the need for antimicrobial use – an important step to reducing the amount of antimicrobials used and therefore the potential resistance within the agricultural sector.
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    13/03/2017
    Setting them up for success
    The ‘transition’ period (from 3 weeks before until 3 weeks after calving) is one of the most critical periods in the dairy cow’s production cycle. The transition period imposes a number of abrupt changes on the cow; physical exertions of calving and lactation, changes in ration and possibly social group. Hormonal and metabolic systems are massively affected which result in increased stress levels and immune suppression. It will come as no surprise that cows are at the highest risk for developing many of the common production diseases at this time; milk fever, retained placenta, mastitis, ketosis and displaced abomasa. As ever, prevention is better than cure and investing in improved transition management will usually pay dividends.
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    22/03/2016
    Management of late calving beef sucklers
    One of the costliest problems in beef production is late calving cows and their reproduction management. The target for length of bulling period in UK beef cows is 9 weeks (1). The primary cause for late calving cows is keeping the bull with the cows and heifers for more than the ideal period of nine weeks to serve the late calving cows; thus stretching the calving period above the desired 10 week target and potentiating the problem.
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    26/02/2016
    Jon Parsons BVetMed MRCVS
    Husk
    As we look to the summer grazing season, cattle lungworm control should be a major consideration this year. Lungworm in cattle is caused by a specific worm called Dictyocaulus viviparus and in many regions may be known as ‘husk’ or ‘hoose’.
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    22/02/2016
    Paul Horwood BVetMed DBR MRCVS
    Locomotion Disorders of Cattle
    The best definition of lameness in cattle is any abnormality that changes how a cow walks and is usually due to a foot problem, but can be hock damage, sores and cuts as well. It is usually due to either disease, environmental or management factors, and because of the welfare implications of lame cows, it is included in the various assurance schemes.
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    16/02/2016
    Lambing Prep
    Benjamin Franklin said “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. You can obviously apply this to most situations and lambing time is no different. While some of you might already have lambing well underway, for others it will be fast approaching. When I say preparing I don’t mean just checking the cupboards are fully stocked with lube, iodine, antibiotics and all the other bits and pieces you will be needing, although this IS a critical task. I wanted to mention a couple of other things that you should be getting done at this time of year if you haven’t already done them.
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    10/02/2016
    Are you getting the most from your bull?
    All arable farmers have a cropping calendar and most sheep & beef farmers have a breeding calendar dictating; when the bulls go in, when vaccinations are to be undertaken to have maximum effect, when calving/lambing is going to start and stop etc.; but how many of us have a Bull Calendar to maximise our return from our bulls?
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    03/02/2016
    Winter Housing
    I had been asked to write about winter diseases but sadly there are far too many diseases associated with winter to cover them all. I would hazard to say that many of them aren’t directly linked with winter, but more associated with what we do with our animals in the winter. Obviously there are many farms and situations where cattle can’t be out all winter as they would probably disappear into the mud; however if we choose to house them we should really be improving their lot overall.
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    30/10/2015
    Let's get rid of that winter cold for good
    With the winter season for coughs and colds approaching Chris Just from Westpoint Farm Vets gives thought to one of the common causes.
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    30/10/2015
    Alex Walters BVSc MBIAC MRCVS
    Focus on Fluke
    It is prudent to suggest that most producers have an appreciation of whether their livestock are susceptible to liver fluke disease (Fascioliasis), based on geography alone! However, a recent survey of UK and ROI farmers, conducted by Elanco, Moredun Research Institute and National Sheep Association, identified that more needs to be done to improve the control and understanding of the parasite Fasciola Hepatica which causes this disease.
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    01/10/2015
    Julie Elkins BSc BVM&S MRCVS
    Lessons to be Learnt
    With the ever changing economic status of our agricultural industries, farmers can no longer afford to adhere to the old saying ‘where there are livestock, there are deadstock’. Dead animals cost money; wasted feed and medicine input and disposal costs all add up before you even consider the potential loss of future production. If however an animal does die unexpectedly, it becomes imperative to try to ascertain the cause of death so that lessons can be learnt which may benefit the rest of your herd or flock.
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    25/09/2015
    Life as a Dairy Farmer
    What a subject to be asked to write on! Everyone but everyone who is anything to do with agriculture is aware of the not so wonderful milk pay cheques currently. So I shall park that subject as we are not considering diversifying into selling our own milk or cheese. After a 4 ½ year search for a farm to dairy farm independently, with many a rollercoaster feeling along the way, we finally moved into our own 20 year tenancy in September 2014.
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    11/09/2015
    Jon Parsons BVetMed MRCVS
    September Diary
    Summer is always an interesting time to be a vet, normally it’s a quieter time with harvest predominating, however we’re far from sitting around and twiddling our thumbs! Summer work brings some variety...
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    01/09/2015
    Kathy Hume BVM BVS MRCVS
    An Individual Cow Approach to Dry Cow Therapy
    Dry cow therapy (DCT) became a main stay in mastitis control in the UK following its recommendation as part of ‘The five point plan’ in the 1960’s by the National Institute for Research into Dairying (NIRD). In the UK DCT currently tends to be used as a ‘blanket’ therapy, where by all the cows in the herd receive antibiotic dry cow treatment at the end of their lactation. The main aim of this treatment is to treat any subclinical infections present in the udder and prevent a new establishment of infections throughout the dry period. The introduction of internal sealants in the dry off treatment schedule of dairy cows has also helped to prevent the introduction of a new infection during the dry period.
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    01/09/2015
    Lucy Bright BVM BVS MRCVS
    Sheep Lameness
    Sheep lameness is a matter of concern for both welfare and profitability in the sheep industry. Lameness is estimated to cost the UK sheep industry £24 million a year. With some of the revenue foregone on marginal costs, including reduced performance leading to a lower kg of lamb produced per ewe, additional feeding for thin lame ewes, labour to treat ewes and medicine costs for antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment.
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    28/08/2015
    Bull breeding soundness examination
    As you stand leaning on the gate on this balmy July evening with a cold beverage in hand admiring your cattle, ask yourself a few questions ……….. Has your breeding season been as fruitful as it could be? Are there cows that mysteriously calved later than expected or not at all? Do you have a uniform group of well grown healthy calves? Is your calving interval creeping up and your pregnancy rates reduced?
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    01/07/2015
    What can scoring do you for?
    Scoring dairy herds can contribute significantly to good husbandry and management of the cows as well as profitability. At Westpoint we have 2 qualified veterinary nurse technicians who perform all of our scoring and work closely with our team of vets. Technicians are out on farm daily getting involved in herd level management with our clients. We use several scoring techniques for different animal health traits to assist in achieving the best performance.
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    13/04/2015
    Viewpoint Issue 3
    Issue 3 of Viewpoint Magazine - Westpoint Farm Vets' magazine with interesting articles including topics such as infectious diseases, biosecurity, lambing, footrot in sheep, research and bovine TB.
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    23/02/2015
    Louise White BVSc MRCVS
    Fertility Targets
    Keeping livestock is an expensive business, but there are ways in which to reduce costs and improve profits. Whether you have a dairy or suckler unit, the aim of the game is to get your cows in calf every year so it is important to know how your herd is performing. Keeping a record of key fertility targets will allow you to compare year on year and whether changes are required. Poor fertility will reduce profit therefore it is important to be aware, particularly when the average UK dairy fertility figures are decreasing.
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    15/02/2015
    Outwintering
    Prior to the first talk that I gave on outwintering cattle a few years ago, I rang a friend of mine in the ministry and asked what they thought of it. The initial response wasn’t good; they weren’t impressed by cattle trudging around knee deep in mud. I was fairly baffled as my own experience of outwintering stock didn’t feature that. When I explained that I was meaning strip grazing kale or fodder beet with preplaced bales or slow rotational grazing on deferred grass, the response changed completely.
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    13/01/2015
    Focusing on Efficient Beef Suckler Production in 2015
    “If it was easy everyone would be doing it…” We are rounding off another tough year, particularly in both the UK beef and dairy sectors, with finished cattle prices recovering at 186p/kg LW and 355p/kg DW but remaining well adrift of 2012-13 markets and many milk producers experiencing greater than 6-8ppl cuts. There may be respite on the horizon for beef suckler enterprises in the knowledge that UK beef and veal production is predicted to fall by up to 2% next year which will likely force farmgate prices in a positive direction.
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    22/12/2014
    BVD From a Different Angle
    Chris considers BVD from an angle we may not all be familiar with, yet. In a fit of enthusiasm for the scientist inside every veterinary surgeon, I performed an experiment today. Not one that will place me amongst the likes of Mendel, Newton and Rutherford, in fact the only thing I share with these scientific greats is my brother’s middle name (perhaps the source of my inspiration!). My tools were available to anyone with a smart phone in their pocket, a humble internet search engine.
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    22/12/2014
    James Dixon BVet Med Cert CHP MRCVS
    Survey of perceived volume vs actual volume and concentration of footbath solutions
    Digital Dermatitis is a highly significant cause of infectious lameness (3), causing both acute and chronic lameness, as well as contributing to more serious, non-healing conditions such as toe necrosis (1). Footbathing is a key component in the control of digital dermatitis and is now common practice on most dairy farms. Inaccuracy of dosing in footbaths has been highlighted previously (2) and is something we often come across when implementing lameness control programs. A survey was designed to evaluate this knowledge on a farm level, and to help highlight where footbathing was not being done effectively.
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    10/12/2014
    Alex Walters BVSc MBIAC MRCVS
    Influence of age on outcomes of 858 bull pre-breeding and pre-purchase examinations performed in the United Kingdom
    Reproductive performance remains a key driver of profitability in both the beef and dairy industries within the United Kingdom. Identification of sub or infertile bulls prior to the breeding period is imperative to avoid commercial production losses. The objective of this investigation was to review the relationship between age and outcome of bull pre-breeding and pre-purchase examinations performed in the United Kingdom.
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    10/12/2014
    Farmer practices and attitudes towards anthelmintic use in cattle in the United Kingdom
    The control of gastro-intestinal nematodes is a vital part of health and production management in cattle herds. The majority of worm control programmes are dependent on anthelmintics, which must be used correctly in order to be effective. Best practices for worm control strategies are set out in the COWS Manual, and include veterinary consultation, effective administration and using wormers only when necessary. Following these recommendations is likely to result in improved herd performance and reduce the risk of anthelmintic resistance developing.
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    29/10/2014
    Survey of perceived vs actual volume and concentration of footbath solutions
    Digital Dermatitis is a highly significant cause of infectious lameness (3), causing both acute and chronic lameness, as well as contributing to more serious, non-healing conditions such as toe necrosis (1). Footbathing is a key component in the control of digital dermatitis and is now common practice on most dairy farms. Inaccuracy of dosing in footbaths has been highlighted previously (2) and is something we often come across when implementing lameness control programs. A survey was designed to evaluate this knowledge on a farm level, and to help highlight where footbathing was not being done effectively.
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    04/08/2014
    A field trial using penethamate in down-calving heifers
    Dairy heifers have been shown to often have high levels of Gram-positive bacteria (1) in their udder at calving. These bacteria often then cause clinical mastitis to impact culling decisions (2) on the first lactation animals. Reducing mastitis rate at 7 days can reduce culling due to udder health. Previous studies have shown the use of penethamate hydriodide (Mamyzin ® , Boehringer Ingelheim) in down calving heifers can reduce mastitis in the first lactation. The question remains however, to review this approach in a commercial situation in the UK to review cost benefit for the farmer.
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    11/11/2013
    Can CMT be a cost effective predictor of early lactation mastitis in dairy heifers?
    Dairy heifers have been shown to have high levels of gram positive bacteria present in their udder at calving that could cause clinical mastitis and impact culling decisions. Reducing mastitis rate at 7 days can reduce culling due to udder health. The CMT has been shown to be a useful, indirect, tool for monitoring fresh cows post calving to detect quarters with major mastitis pathogens present (4). Somatic Cell Count (SCC) ≥500,000 cells/ml/milk has been recognised as CMT score ≥1 (0-3 scale) with the SCC ≥800,000 for CMT ≥2. A CMT score ≥2 (0-3 scale) has been shown to be 66.7% sensitive for detecting a major pathogen and SCC in cows. Could this approach work for first lactation heifers?
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    31/10/2013
    Impact of colostrum type on the incidence on the failure of passive transfer in dairy calves
    The importance of good colostrum feeding in calves is well documented; with failure of passive transfer being linked to increased risk of disease in the neonatal period. One of the difficulties faced on farm is the variability in colostrum produced by the dam and what to do in situations where insufficient good quality colostrum available.
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    10/10/2013
    Can total protein measurements in newborn calves be used to predict subsequent daily live weight gain?
    The calves we produce today are the cows of tomorrow. In order for these calves to achieve their full genetic potential, they must be correctly managed from birth. Initially this involves ensuring adequate passive transfer of maternal antibodies, to protect newborn calves from disease. This study aims to see if calf Total Protein level can predict subsequent daily live weight gain.
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    07/10/2013
    The future fertility performance of problem breeder cows after receiving a therapeutic flush wash out
    A retrospective study into the future fertility performance of 34 problem breeder cows after receiving a therapeutic flush wash out.
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    03/10/2013
    Using the Fabdec Heat Time Electronic Oestrus Detection System to Predict Optimal Time for Artificial Insemination in Holstein Dairy Cattle
    A 9 month observational study was undertaken, assessing the usefulness of The Heat Time System for predicting optimal time to serve Holstein Dairy cattle.
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    03/10/2013
    Anthelmintic resistance in cattle: an emerging issue in England?
    Anthelmintic resistance (AR) in sheep nematode populations has been widely reported in the United Kingdom. Whilst there have been reports of AR in cattle nematodes, these have often involved anecdotal evidence of treatment failure, possibly resulting from underdosing or incorrect treatment. During the 2012 grazing season, controlled field studies were conducted on 25 cattle farms across England.
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    09/08/2013
    Use of Decoquinate in Milk Replacer to Control Coccidiosis in Calves
    It has been suggested that all cattle kept under conventional conditions unavoidably experience infection with coccidia at some point in their lives. Estimations suggest that only 5% of infected animals show clinical signs of coccidiosis (Muirhead, 1989) (anorexia, loss of weight, haemorrhagic and mucoid diarrhoea) whilst the remaining 95% are subclinical. The economic impact of the clinical disease is widely acknowledged (Jolley, 2006) but the negative effect of subclinical coccidiosis on feed conversion and growth is often overlooked even though it occurs more frequently (Daugschies, 2007).
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    13/05/2013
    Outcomes of 339 Bull Breeding Examinations in the South of England
    Fertility remains a key focus in improving profitability within both the beef and dairy industries in the UK. Sub-fertile breeding bulls, particularly in beef enterprises, can be the source of substantial economic loss. This survey summarises the results of 339 bull breeding examinations performed on 314 breeding bulls within the South of England between May 2007 and July 2011 in order to assess the value of offering this service.
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    13/05/2013
    Case Study: A Milk Quality Programme in a UK Dairy Herd
    To evaluate a multi-faceted approach (Milk Quality Programme, MQP) to reduce mastitis on a large commercial dairy farm through management changes, vaccination and use of new technology.
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    23/01/2013
    Calf Health Management Practices, Pre-Weaning Disease Levels and Calf Mortality on Kent Dairy Farms
    Calf health and management is an area of bovine medicine that is important for the future productivity and health of any dairy herd rearing their own replacements. Common calf diseases such as pneumonia, if experienced by a calf will not only impact its growth but also the survivability of heifers within a herd.
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    09/11/2012
    Practical use of Lactocorder and VaDia to investigate milking machine performance and milking technique
    The milking machine is regarded as having a signifi cant infl uence on the rate of intramammary infection (IMI) on a dairy farm (Baxter et al., 1992). The measurement of vacuum behaviour during the milking process, the “dynamic” test, is a well established process for evaluating performance (Reinemann et al., 2007). Undertaking milk fl ow analysis is a recent development for investigators and allows them access to accurate data sources as parlours and recording devices have become more sophisticated.
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    12/10/2012
    Outcomes of 560 Bull Breeding Examinations performed in the United Kingdom
    Fertility is a key driver of profitability within both the beef and dairy industries. Sub-fertile breeding bulls, particularly in beef enterprises, can be the source of substantial economic loss. This survey summarises the results of 560 bull breeding examinations performed on 528 breeding bulls within the United Kingdom between January 2007 and September 2011.
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    31/05/2012