Vet Viewpoint

Andrew Davies, Southfield Vet Centre, Dorchester

A weekend on call provided a timely reminder of the dangers posed by infectious bovine rhinotraceitis (IBR).

Three cows were off milk, showing respiratory signs.

We already have recent bulk milk serology results showing a suspicious rise in IBR antibody levels.

Bloods and swabs were taken, but as it is a weekend no results will be possible for a few days.

In the meantime, do we vaccinate the whole herd for IBR? If yes, do we have enough vaccine?

Or do we wait and hold tight? Herd milk yield is down a little, but not much and other factors are also at play.

But with no further cases, no further herd milk drop and the vaccine poised in fridge we await serology results.

John MacFarlane, Aln Vet Group, Alnwick

A bumper crop of lambs, but dire weather and no grass to turn out to, that’s the predicament for Northumberland’s shepherds.

Soon on the agenda will be the twin threats of clostridia and pasteurella.

Of course the good flock manager will already have shored up defences by using a pre-lambing vaccine, but the youngsters are about to face these two scourges themselves.

So it’s time to inject a bit of resistance by, after consulting your vet, giving lambs their first dose of vaccine and repeating it four weeks later.

More live lambs finished means more money to spend at the autumn sales.

David Stockton, Chapelfields Vets, Norwich

I attended a dairy farm recently where 11 out of a group of 40 yearling heifers were showing strange signs of tetanus – stiffness in moving, protrusion of the third eyelid, bloat, tail elevation and varying degrees of salivation associated with lockjaw.

Treatment involved surgical placement of a ruminal fistula to reduce the immediate bloat stress.

All affected cases were treated with a course of penicillin and given tetanus antitoxin.

In-contact heifers were vaccinated and given a long-acting penicillin injection.

It was concluded the source of infection was a number of round bales of straw from the bottom of an outdoor pyramid stack.

These had been seen to be quite dirty on occasions.

John Cammack, Cooper and Partners, Uttoxeter

A late turnout on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border has brought a mix of problems including grass staggers and bolus gun injuries.

Staggers most commonly presents as a nervous disease of lactating cows at grass.

This is because grass, particularly when heavily fertilised, can be low in magnesium and the output of magnesium in milk is high.

Make sure you have some bottles of magnesium sulphate available at all times, as the condition can rapidly deteriorate leading to death.

With bolus gun injuries the most common complication is damage and abcessation to the back of the throat, but I have had to retrieve half a bitten-off bolus applicator from a heifer’s rumen and seen several deaths when the bolus has become lodged in the windpipe.


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