Vet Watch: a regional round-up of key veterinary issues

Ian Bates

Fenwold Vets, Lincolnshire

We’ve experienced several recent pneumonia outbreaks following the changeable weather, many involving sudden deaths in cattle, from young calves to 14-month-old fattening stock. Investigations in one such case, demonstrated a significant involvement of BVD virus. This occurred in a herd where screening tests 18 months before had shown no evidence of BVD, and serves to highlight the importance of regular screening tests (especially of youngstock). Pharmaceutical companies are offering subsidised testing through your vet. This was a “closed” herd but a group of heifers had broken through a fence into a neighbouring farm last summer. It is thought this may have allowed introduction of the disease and highlights the importance of biosecurity.

John Sedgwick

Millcroft Veterinary Group, Cockermouth

In practice we’ve had recent experiences of diseases that may have more to do with their parish than TB. Biosecurity and closed flocks or herds have become part of our parlance. Lately there have been situations where farmers know their neighbours have a problem and results are pending eg. sheep abortion, which can test our confidentiality. Yet their neighbour’s health/disease status is often the same as theirs or soon going to be.

In our relatively stock dense patch, no farm is an island, whatever its health policy, and perhaps a parish or local health plan could have a role in controlling diseases such as IBR, BVD, sheep scab and abortion. It is a reminder to us of how many visitors can be vectors of disease. On that note, bluetongue seems to have slipped from the vocabulary.

Mel Speechley

Drove Vets, Wiltshire

This year we have held five fully-booked practical lambing courses. Although originally set up for new farmers and smallholders, we have had more experienced farmers attending who are keen to learn up-to-date ideas and techniques, and undo any bad habits they may have.

Ongoing training is becoming more sought after as farmers wish to improve their skills and – ultimately – productivity. Some milk buyers and farm assurance schemes also require farmers to engage in regular training and this is becoming more and more accessible, particularly through the Farmskills programme.

Steve Borsberry

608 Vet Group, Solihull

It must be more than five years since I was asked for a box of teat cannulae. I have supplied them with a sense of reservation; there are occasions where they are needed but, from past experience, the more the teat orifice is physically interfered with the greater the risk of mastitis.

Cattle clients are often disappointed when abortion investigation results are inconclusive. However, all abortions should be investigated. Recently, one client reported three abortions and sampling 41 breeding cows has revealed 10 seropositive for neospora.

The increase in feed prices has influenced clients to analyse their costs – there is no point in carrying non-productive cows. Some dairy clients have begun to cross-breed their Holstein cows, and it would appear the resultant cows are less prone to some diseases.

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