SAC Consulting will be holding a meeting focussing on sheep flocks to inform producers of the latest developments and issues for the year ahead. It is on Tuesday 19th January at the Thainstone Centre at 7.30pm. Topics will include management tips at lambing, nutrition, business and grassland management, biodiversity and greening rules. Please contact SAC Consulting Thainstone office on 01467 625385 if you wish to attend this free meeting.
At this time of year store lambs should be at least maintaining condition, though with the recent very wet weather they may have had a set back. However if they are failing to thrive it is worth investigating the reasons as to why. It could be a combination of factors that are involved such as liver fluke, worms, trace element deficiencies or inadequate nutrition.
For example in a batch of bought-in store lambs that we investigated last month there was a high worm egg count in the group, despite the lambs having been wormed about three weeks before, and there were also cobalt and selenium deficiencies. The high worm egg counts could have been due to either re-infection on heavily contaminated pasture or due to resistance to the wormer that was used. The lambs were not heavily stocked, had plenty of grass and at this time of year they shouldn’t be picking up high levels of worm challenge. It is therefore likely that the roundworms had resistance to the white drench used, which is a common occurrence in flocks across the country. The lambs have now been dosed with another class of wormer and are going to be dosed monthly with a cobalt-selenium drench.
If you are concerned about the effectiveness of the wormers that you are using in your flock it can be checked through doing worm egg counts 7 or 14 days after treatment (depending on the wormer used). Speak to one of the farm animal vets if you are concerned about the growth rates in your store lambs.
In the last few weeks we were involved with another flock which had lost over 30 bought-in store lambs, most of which were sudden deaths. In this case the lambs were thriving but on-farm post-mortem examinations found that the losses were due to pulpy kidney. This is one of the most common causes of deaths in growing lambs and it is often the better lambs that die suddenly. A vaccination course e.g. two doses of Ovivac P Plus given 4-6 weeks apart provides protection to lambs against pulpy kidney. It also gives cover against Pasteurella infections which are another common killer of lambs.
Catriona Ritchie BVMS MSc MRCVS Buchan Vets Large Animal Team
Happy New Year to all of our clients!
Following the great turnouts at our recent evening meetings and the good feedback received we will be holding further beef and sheep health evening meetings. We will also be holding a meeting for our dairy clients soon.
Our next evening meeting will be on “Lambing and Lamb Health” on Thursday 11th February at 7.30pm. Further details to follow.
Our next cattle meeting will be “Calving and Calf Health” on Thursday 25th February at 7.30pm. More details to follow.
Whilst oral antibiotics have a role in the treatment of watery mouth, and its prevention during an outbreak, the blanket use of antibiotics in livestock is coming under increasing scrutiny due to concerns over antibiotic resistance reducing the effectiveness of antibiotic use in the human population. It is not just the human population that needs to be considered though as there is evidence of resistance to some antibiotics on some farms so animal treatments can also be less effective and antibiotic choice becomes more limited on these holdings. In the coming years there could be more regulations introduced over the use of antibiotics on farm and we may even find some are withdrawn from animal use. We therefore need to do what we can to preserve our ability to use antibiotics by ensuring that antibiotics are being used as responsibly as possible.
Lambs and calves are born with a sterile gut and the normal gut flora establishes soon after birth. A good intake of colostrum as soon as possible after birth, but especially within the first six hours, plus clean, well bedded pens will help ensure that healthy bacteria colonise the gut which makes it harder for disease-causing bacteria to invade. If antibiotics are given it could interfere with the healthy bacterial flora. One way to encourage a healthy gut population is to use a probiotic. There is an oral doser to help kick start newborn lambs called Provita Lamb Response which contains probiotic bacteria plus egg powder as a protein source and also vitamins. A supply of vitamins, especially B vitamins, is beneficial to lambs before their rumen starts to function. As well as being useful as a routine supplement at birth the doser is also beneficial for lambs that are recovering from scour.
If you use an oral antibiotic doser at birth to prevent watery mouth and are reluctant to stop then you could consider using it on a risk basis. Strong, single lambs born to ewes with plenty of colostrum would be at low risk so shouldn’t need antibiotics if they are born into a clean, well bedded pen. They could just be given a probiotic doser whereas triplets will get less colostrum each so would be considered to be at higher risk.
As there has been interest in us running a practical lambing course we will be doing so in early February. We hope to be using a lambing simulator so we will keep the workshop to a maximum of eight participants. If we have more than eight people who are interested in attending, then we will hold a second one. There will be practice in dealing with difficult lambings and we will be covering routine procedures at lambing time. We will also be discussing and demonstrating techniques on how to deal with poorly young lambs and how to keep them healthy. The cost of the course will be £50 + VAT per person and lunch will be provided. Please contact the surgery on 01771 637219 if you are interested in attending the course and we will get back to you once the date has been arranged.
It can be a worrying time when your pet is diagnosed with Diabetes. The vet will work with you to bring the condition under control but then we have found that many owners feel they would benefit from further help in long term management of the condition.
We are delighted to offer a new support service for our diabetic patients and their owners. Diabetes Mellitus is a surprisingly common disease in both cats and dogs.
Therapy includes daily insulin treatment and monitoring, some diet and lifestyle changes and regular check-ups to look for possible urine infections and changes in weight, as well as proactive disease management.
To be told that you need to inject your pet once or twice daily can be a little daunting, but with our support we know that many pet owners soon feel at ease with the new routine of regular injecting. Our Diabetes Clinics offer guidance and support both for owners beginning their journey with a diabetic pet, as well as those we are old hands at it!
What happens at the clinic?
At the free clinic, which is bookable throughout the day, our qualified Registered Veterinary Nurse, Louise Leonard, will assess your pet’s weight, treatment, routine, lifestyle, diet and medicine handling. Any concerns can be discussed and a personalised plan is then made. You will usually see the same person, as Louise is the Diabetic Clinic Senior Advisor, so your pet’s individual circumstances can be fully taken into account.
We’ve found that many of the hiccups in treating diabetic pets can be prevented both by regular monitoring and excellent communication between pet owners and the veterinary team. Having someone who knows and understands you, your pet and your home circumstances gives you peace of mind and reassurance that you are doing the right thing for your pet. From the positive feedback from clients we know Diabetic Clinics have been a really positive addition to our range of Nursing Clinics.
To make an appointment for the Diabetic Clinics with Louise please call
Peterhead 01779 472 460 or Fraserburgh 01346 510 000
Meeting on Herd Health during Housing
We are holding a meeting on the health of cattle during the housing period on Tuesday 13th October at 7.30pm in The White Horse Hotel, Strichen. The topics covered will include a BVD update, liver fluke, pneumonia, digital dermatitis, worms and lice. We will have another meeting during the winter on calving topics. The coming meeting is being sponsored by MSD and stovies will be provided. For catering purposes please let us know if you would like to attend by calling the practice on 01771 637219.
BVD testing reminder for store producers
Annual BVD testing is compulsory for all Scottish breeding herds. If you are selling stores before they reach nine months old and your herd is currently classed as Negative the options are as follows:
· Blood test ten calves aged 6-9 months old from each separate group for BVD antibodies
· Test every calf born or brought into the herd for virus (using either ear tissue at any age from birth or blood samples from one month old)
· Test all cattle in the herd for virus.
If your herd is currently classed as Not Negative then all cattle leaving your herd need to be individually tested as negative for BVD virus before sale (unless they are being sold as finished). If an animal tests as negative for the virus (also known as antigen) then its dam is assumed not to be a PI (Persistently Infected) animal so it can be sold without testing.
If cattle are purchased from an untested herd (e.g. a non-breeding dealer’s herd or from a non-Scottish herd) and enter a holding with a breeding herd then the bought in cattle need to have either been previously tested as negative for BVD virus or be tested on arrival in their new herd.
If your herd is classed as having Negative status and your calves remain in your herd until they are over nine months old it is best to wait until they are over that age before testing them as only five need to be tested per group and it reduces the risk of detecting antibodies that have been derived from colostrum and could still be present in the blood stream at a low level.
If you are unsure as to what your herd’s BVD status is you can check on the internet on the ScotEID website by entering your holding number (www.scoteid.com). We can also check for you or contact the BVD helpline on 01466 794323.
Please note that there are different types of BVD test:
Antibody testing indicates whether or not an animal has been exposed to BVD virus in the past. As BVD virus is very infectious and PI animals shed a lot of virus constantly then testing a proportion of the group is usually sufficient to detect if there is, or has been, exposure to BVD virus in the group.
Virus or antigen testing indicates if an animal is infected with BVD virus. PI animals are virus (or antigen) positive. PI animals do not usually have any antibody to BVD. PI animals are only created before birth. If it is not a PI animal at birth it will never become a PI animal. The virus/antigen tests are very sensitive and can sometimes detect animals that have been exposed to the virus very recently. Therefore if an animal tests as positive for virus/antigen it is recommended to isolate it and retest it again after at least three weeks. If it retests as positive it confirms that it is infected with BVD virus and is therefore a PI animal. If the dam of a PI animal is present in the herd it should be tested for BVD virus in case it is a PI animal.
Liver Fluke in Sheep
October is usually the time of year when acute liver fluke problems start to occur. As this summer has been wet the conditions have been ideal for liver fluke, which has a mud snail as part of its life cycle. It is therefore likely that the liver fluke challenge will be significant this year. Acute liver fluke hits sheep hard due to large numbers of immature flukes migrating through the liver and it can result in sudden deaths or the sheep may be seen as weak for a short time before death. Unfortunately it can result in a number of deaths over a short period and, due to the severe liver damage that is caused, the deaths can continue for a short time even after treatment during an outbreak. It is best to treat sheep (lambs, ewes and tups) for fluke before an outbreak is likely and the best drug for treating sheep this month or next is triclabendazole as it is the only drug that is effective against the very early stages of liver fluke. It is present in Fasinex and also in the wormer/fluke combination treatment Combinex. Unless ewes are in thin body condition or are tightly stocked they generally do not need worming at this time of year and only need to be treated for liver fluke. This is one of the recommendations to try and reduce the risk of wormer resistance developing in the worms on your holding.
Keeping store lambs alive and healthy
If store lambs are of unknown vaccination status it is advisable to vaccinate them with Ovivac P Plus soon after arrival. A two dose course, 4-6 weeks apart, is required. It includes protection against two of the most common causes of death of young lambs: pulpy kidney and Pasteurellosis. If their worming history is unknown it is worth dosing them for worms and fluke on arrival. At this time of year use a product that is effective against the immature flukes i.e. containing triclabendazole (e.g. Fasinex or a combination wormer/flukicide e.g. Combinex). Usually treating them for fluke on arrival and again in January is sufficient if lambs are being sold by early spring but in wet years it may be necessary to dose them for fluke again in November. When dosing for fluke in January using a product that targets the late immatures and adults is sufficient. It is best not to use triclabendazole all of the time otherwise the risk of resistance to it developing will increase. It is also worthwhile considering treating the lambs for scab, especially if you also have a breeding flock. Injectable wormers such as Dectomax Injection, Cydectin Injection and Ivomec Classic Injection target scab as well as worms however some products require two injections to be given if the sheep are showing signs of scab. Another option would be to plunge dip the sheep to prevent scab from being introduced. Dips are also good for lice control. If store lambs are in lean condition it may be worth having some of them blood sampled for cobalt, selenium and copper as they could be deficient in one or more of these trace elements. Running them through a formalin or zinc sulphate footbath soon after arrival is also worthwhile and repeating on a regular basis through the autumn and winter should help to keep footrot at a low level. Always check withdrawal periods before using any products in finishing lambs as some of the injectable wormers and fluke treatments can have lengthy withdrawals.
Catriona Ritchie BVMS MSc MRCVS
Buchan Vets Large Animal Team