Farmers Weekly’s Vet Watch writers discuss the dangers of bluetongue, Johne’s disease and starlings.
Bill Pepper Cliffe Vet Group, Lewes, East Sussex
The threat of Bluetongue from mainland Europe to the SE livestock industry is much greater than Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction ever were. Last year BTV8 and BTV1 were present just across the water in France.
In the South East we have been vaccinating the majority of susceptible animals for two years now and partially providing a protective cushion for the rest of the UK. We are again recommending, at the very least, all breeding female/male susceptible animals should be vaccinated this year.
This month many of our sheep clients were planning to do a pre-lambing BTV booster. At the time of writing, only one of the three vaccine manufacturers has the product available.
Matthew Berriman, Rosevean Vet Practice, Penzance, Cornwall
We are diagnosing more clinical cases of Johne’s disease each year and on some farms it is becoming an area of substantial loss due to numbers culled each year.
The best way to estimate the number of infected cows is to use individual milk or blood samples from the whole herd or a representative sample. Once the number of Johne’s positive cows in the herd has been estimated, a control plan can be developed. Plans involve regular testing for the disease, strategic culling plus careful attention to breeding, calf rearing and calving management.
Control plans have reduced the number of heifers testing positive for Johne’s in some herds from 10-15% a year to only one or two cases per year within three to four years.
Roel Driesen, MacPherson O’Sullivan, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
It has always intrigued me how hard a prolapsing we can push. There are things we can do to help a ewe in this situation; clean it, push it back or keep it there. The last is the hardest. I prefer the harness which works without interfering too much and I would use this with an epidural and a purse string suture with tape. It can be opened up for a check up and closed again to keep everything in. Antibiotic and anti inflammatory is needed to keep down infection and reduce the chance of the ewe starting to strain again.
Anthony Wilkinson, Friars Moor Vet Clinic, Sturminster, Dorset
I cannot help it, but I have a sneaking admiration for what has become a real pest on some farms – huge flocks of starlings. They are clever and evade almost every possible control measure. To walk into sheds and disturb clouds of birds and then see cubicle railings covered in starling excrement and cows peppered with more of the same is depressing. They must consume significant amounts of food, and are potential disease carriers; Salmonella being one of these. Preventing the flock from getting established on a farm is easier than moving them on to your neighbour once they have discovered a free food source.