Vet Viewpoint

A regional round-up of key veterinary issues from members of XLVets

Tim O’Sullivan

Macpherson O’Sullivan Vet Surgeons, Shrewsbury

It’s funny how things seem to come in threes. Having not had to stitch a cow’s teat in quite some time, I have had to do three recently.

The outcome for these cows is determined by how deep the wound is and how quickly we are called. Minor wounds that aren’t leaking milk are easily repaired if caught on time, but wounds that penetrate into the milk canal are more difficult to repair.

The use of a teat cannula to avoid using the milking machine on the affected teat can help during the healing phase. Concurrent treatment and use of antiseptic ointment helps reduce swelling and infection. Banishing barbed wire and rusty sheets of tin is probably the best long-term solution.

Kath Alpin

Paragon Vet Group, Carlisle

We’ve recently seen several cases of tyre wire disease. In 2001 most of the tyres on Cumbrian farms were burned and replaced after foot-and-mouth. We believe the recent cluster of cases may be due to these replacement tyres now starting to deteriorate.

Tyre wire disease expresses itself in many different ways: One cow was found dead and on post-mortem a wire was found penetrating the heart. Other cases can be treated successfully when the wire is removed before complications arise.

Inspection of tyres before silage-making is important to reduce the risk of tyre wire disease. Magnets on feeder wagons are useful, and farms that have experienced problems should consider dosing all cows with magnetic boluses.

Matthew Berriman

Rosevean Vet Practice, Penzance

Conditions for turning out this year have not been ideal, with the weather often wet and cold. These conditions increase the risk of grass staggers.

It is easy to prevent staggers by supplementing magnesium. Additional magnesium given daily in a buffer ration or via a ruminal bolus are the better ways of ensuring the correct amount of magnesium is taken in by each cow.

Adding magnesium to water is also useful, however, the animals must of course drink the supplemented water. This is difficult to achieve on some farms, either due to streams or wet grazing conditions resulting in the cows not drinking water from troughs.

Yoav Alony-Gilboa

Friars Moor Vet Clinic, Dorset

Lambing is over on most farms and ewes and lambs have been turned out to grass. While on the lookout for internal parasites such as gut worms and coccidia (monitored by examining faecal samples for egg counts) it is important not to forget another serious killer of growing lambs – “pulpy kidney”, a disease caused by clostridial bacteria.

Ewes vaccinated with clostridial vaccines before lambing will provide lambs with immunity for the first 12 weeks of life. Should immunity wane and lambs become exposed to the disease, mortality will be high, often affecting the better lambs. The advice is to vaccinate lambs for pulpy kidney at eight weeks of age and boost them at 12 weeks to provide adequate immunity.

All contributing vets are members of XLVets, a group of vet practices which work together, alongside commercial research and manufacturing companies. They aim to share best practice on advice and disease prevention initiatives.