Vet Watch: a round-up of key veterinary issues

David McCrea, Capontree Veterinary Centre, Cumbria

BVD has significant economic and welfare implications in herds which become infected. Some of the signs of BVD are more barren cows, abortions, stillbirths and weak calves along with an increase in scour and pneumonia.

In Scotland, BVD testing will become mandatory from 1 December 2011. As a result, farms in Cumbria and Northumberland have shown great interest in maintaining trade into Scotland. There are two options:

1. Have a BVD-accredited herd, which can be done in conjunction with your vet and one of the health schemes.
2. Use a blood test to demonstrate the animal isn’t carrying the virus.

Owen Atkinson, Lambert, Leonard and May, Shropshire

Owen AtkinsonIt’s interesting what is happening on other farms across the world. I’ve just had three days in Holland, where vets do all the debudding, administer most intravenous injections and all vaccinations. Due to the risk of resistance, they have to reduce antibiotic usage by 20% by next year. They feel this will only lead to illegal imports of unregulated antibiotics and actually increase the risk of resistance.

One of my partners has had a study trip to New Zealand. There, vets are in their busy period, starting with service and running into pregnancy testing. Then they can relax until calving in July giving time to review the season and plan the next one.

Steve Smith, PAWS Veterinary Health Centre, Warwickshire

Steve SmithDue to the last few wet summers, we have seen more outbreaks of fluke across the practice. Often problems with lambs on the farm or reports from the abattoir have been the first sign, while testing of beef and dairy herds has revealed fluke problems in adult cows.

This year, however, has been very dry and our advice is for farms to do a check test for fluke before treatment as it may not be needed.

For farms that do not use a fluke treatment, a check test would still be a good idea, as fluke accumulated in previous wet years may still be causing unnoticed liver damage.

Tom Clarke, Synergy Farm Health, Somerset

Tom ClarkeHaving left behind a very depressed UK dairy sector in 2006 to work abroad, it has been brilliant to come home to a much more positive dairy scene in 2011. Many farms are looking to the future and making long term investments in farm infrastructure. Cow numbers are ever increasing as farms seek economies of scale, but it is also good to see farmers understanding the importance of cow comfort. New or extended parlours are also on the increase to accommodate more cows, but it is vital to make sure the layout is well thought out to maximise cow flow and ensure relaxed comfortable milking of the cows. Excellent health programmes such as the DairyCo mastitis plan have really helped raise awareness and knowledge on farm and to actually reduce disease levels.