Vetwatch: A monthly round-up of vet issues around the UK

Don McMillan, The Minster Vet Practice, York

“Having just taken a few fat lambs to the abattoir, collected ewes from their holiday with the tup and sent some old cull ewes in, I’ve decided to stick to being a vet, which is far less stressful.


“Making sure in-lamb ewes are in the correct condition and looking out for pregnancy toxaemia should be a priority. This tends to show in the last month of pregnancy, the classic signs being refusal to eat, separation from others, and apparent blindness. Being associated with an energy deficiency means the risk could be greater this year because of the weather.”


Tim O’Sullivan, Macpherson, O’Sullivan, Shrewsbury

Tim-O“Uterine infections post-calving can damage a cow’s fertility if it is left untreated. Good hygiene in the calving box including bedding, calving ropes, calving aids and hands are a basic first steps in prevention.


“Early detection and treatment improves the chances of a successful cure. Regularly checking cows’ temperatures in the days post-calving can pick up early signs of a problem. The cost of replacements and the milk price make the economics of zero withhold antibiotics favourable. But for the best results, cases need to be treated quickly.”


Julia Moorhouse, Kingsway Vet Group, Skipton

“This winter, we’ve seen several cases of IBR in dairy herds. This highly infectious virus, which can cause respiratory disease, milk drop and abortion in cattle, affects all ages of cattle and can be fatal.


“Once an animal is infected it can remain a carrier of the virus and may start to shed virus at a later date. It’s advisable for herds that have experienced IBR infection to continue to protect their stock indefinitely. If symptoms are being presented, swabs can be taken and tested by the VLA.”


John MacFarlane, Alnorthumbria Vet Group, Alnwick

macfarlane“The text books say rhododendron poisoning is rare, but it hasn’t been this year.


“With snow covering the ground for up to three weeks, sheep will eat anything that’s green – including rhododendrons. The toxic component, andromedotoxin, causes salivation in hours. Signs deteriorate rapidly through retching, abdominal pain and staggering to collapse and, in some cases, death.


“Prompt treatment is needed and this includes vitamin B1, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory. Some use stimulants (coffee or tea) or purgatives (Epsom salts), but drenching must be done with extreme care to avoid inhalation.”

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