Grassland UK: Maintaining soil and grass quality

Maintaining soil and grass quality could improve animal health, but keeping cows at grass created challenges in terms of cow fertility and health, said Paddy Gordon from Xcel vets, Shepton vet group.

“To run a successful, profitable business, adaptation is key,” said Mr Gordon. “It is essential to adapt to changing conditions brought about by summer grazing.”

Liver fluke was a risk that should be considered this summer. “After two consecutive wet years, the opportunity for liver fluke increases.” More than 60% of bulk milk samples taken from Shepton vet clients had come back positive for liver fluke, while results at slaughter showed a high rate of condemned livers.

“My main concern is our huge expectations of yield, and cow health can be undermined by sub-clinical diseases, such as liver fluke.”

Grazing also brought with it nutritional and fertility challenges. “We usually see a sharp increase in displaced abomasums at grazing, due to inadequate supply of fibre for freshly-calved cows or reduced dry matter intakes during wet periods.”

Not only does it affect animal health with increased digestive upsets and reduced butterfats, but would ultimately have a milk price effect.

While farmers were out silaging, it was all to easy for heat detection to suffer. “In the summer months, I often see more pd negative cows being presented for me to check. A lot of the time it is just a case of return heats not being picked up.

“This can be avoided by maintaining a good routine alongside good records.”