Vet advice: Maggot problems, BVD and magic bullets

Flies, BVD and incorrect use of medicines are just some of the health issues observed by vets at XL Vets in July.

Here’s the monthly round-up.

Bill Pepper, Cliffe Vet Group, East Sussex

I hate maggots. Several fly species are involved and some are attracted to existing wounds or the odour of soiled fleece, but others will even lay eggs on normal unbroken skin and then the hatched larvae (maggots) will create a wound that dramatically increases in size as the maggot colony grows.

The process is incredibly rapid in hot and humid climatic conditions when eggs can hatch within 12 hours and baby maggots will migrate towards the skin to feed on the host’s tissues and effectively start to eat the host alive.

See also: View last month’s Vet Watch column

Prevention is preferable to cure and blanket treatment of all susceptible animals is recommended – unlike the current advice on worming or dry cow antibiotic treatments.

Ian Bates, Fenwold Vet Practice, Lincolnshire

Stunted calves? Increased disease levels? More serious and difficult-to-treat disease cases? Youngstock deaths? Herd fertility not what it could or should be?

So, have you checked your herd BVD status?

Just six blood samples from each management group of home-grown yearlings provides an accurate indication of your herd status. This information is used to develop an action plan for BVD.

This should include blanket herd vaccination, blood-sampling youngstock, and ear-notching calves at birth to look for and remove persistently infected (PI) individuals.

Eradication relies on vaccination as well as culling PIs.

Peter Siviter, Synergy Farm Health, Dorset

We have seen a great deal of New Forest Eye, summer mastitis and maggots, which all have one thing in common – flies.

Flying insects are rife at the moment, and they transmit bacteria between animals and reduce feed conversion through fly-worry.

There are a number of fly repellents available, so it is worth checking with your vet which one you should use.

Now is also a good time to think about giving your winter housing a proper clean-out and pressure wash. Leaving them for a few weeks to dry out in the hot sun will ensure a hygienic environment by the time they need to be occupied again.

Roger Scott, Scott Mitchell Associates, Northumberland

The term “magic bullet” was originally used to describe a medicine for the treatment of syphilis in humans – the idea being that it would cure a patient without producing side effects so bad that they killed the sufferer.

The phrase caught on and soon everyone was searching for magic bullets to “cure the problem”, whatever it might be. And therein lies the issue –do you actually know what the problem is?

So often treatment is blind, which is ridiculous when you think about it. Injecting preventative antibiotics into an animal that may not even have a bacterial infection, for example, or starting to vaccinate against a disease that is not a risk for your farm.

So, rather than asking for a bottle of something, run some tests and find out what really is going on.


Vet Viewpoint is a regional monthly round-up of key veterinary issues from members of the XL Vets group