1) Control clinical mastitis
As temperatures rise during the summer months, it is not unusual to see increases in cases of clinical mastitis, says Amy Fawcett, extension officer for DairyCo.
Buildings and paddocks that are adequate in colder months sometimes struggle to accommodate animals in warmer months, causing problems with environmental mastitis.
It is important to find out if your mastitis problem is of dry period origin or if it originates in the lactation period, to avoid wasting capital in areas that are unlikely to make a difference to the problem.
Ventilation is essential in maintaining cool temperatures in your buildings and to make sure slurry and water pooling doesn’t occur, while cow tracks can be a great aid in preventing poaching of gateways and other areas.
Keeping records of your clinical cases of mastitis is a vital part in knowing where the problem is coming from. The DairyCo Mastitis Control Plan analyses your farm data to decide if the problem stems from dry cows or lactating cows and then, with observation of your farm, decisions can be made as to where changes would be best made.
2) Take steps to optimise lamb performance
Optimising lamb performance is likely to be a significant challenge this year due to the weather and limited feed supply, according to EBLEX’s Liz Genever.
“The major driver for lamb growth rates up to about eight weeks is milk yield, which may have been an issue as low feed supply affected ewes. It’s therefore likely that there will be more ‘poor doers’ this year than previously,” she said.
“Where lambs aren’t meeting growth targets, reduce stress by grouping lambs according to size, ensure good-quality forage is available and have a health plan in place.”
3) Don’t forget to treat cattle for fluke
Despite the cold winter, liver fluke is still likely to be a problem this grazing season, warns the COWS industry stakeholder group.
“Any wet areas in fields can provide a habitat for the snail intermediate host and increase the risk of fluke infection,” said EBLEX’s Mary Vickers.
“Such pastures should be avoided, but if this is not possible, cattle grazing on high-risk pastures may need to be dosed with a flukicide between 10 and 12 weeks after turnout.
“This will reduce fluke egg output and lessen the risk of infection later in the season, as well as improving performance.”
4) Get heat detection right
Review your heat detection practices to make sure heat is not missed or misdiagnosed, says Angela Cliff, BPEX knowledge transfer manager. Accurate heat detection and timing of insemination are essential to achieve a target farrowing rate of 85% and above. Check for a standing reflex twice daily if possible with at least seven hours between checks, using a designated heat detection pen. Fenceline contact with an active, chatty boar is essential and you should aim to heat check no more than two sows at a time. To download the factsheet, Action for Productivity 29: Effective heat detection, and for more information on the Breed +3 initiative, go to the BPEX website
5) Reduce risk of seasonality
Plan how to manage the breeding herd during the summer months to reduce the risk of seasonal infertility problems, says Richard Bows, BPEX knowledge transfer manager. Things to consider include: planning ahead to ensure there are at least 10% more gilts available for the seasonality period, providing wallows, sprinklers and shades for all stock and adjusting the service routine so animals are served at cooler times of day.
6) Review biosecurity action plans
Pig producers should make sure they have effective biosecurity action plans for their units, says BPEX regional health co-ordinator Louise Wall. They can include: rodent control, managing delivery vehicles and visitors to the unit, isolation of newly introduced pigs and cleaning and disinfection processes. A free biosecurity tool is available for Pig Health Improvement Project (PHIP) members to help them produce a bespoke action plan for their unit. Producers answer a series of questions online and the tool produces a report highlighting areas where action can be taken. To join the Pig Health Improvement Project and access the biosecurity survey, go to www.pighealth.org.uk