Isolate replacements to keep your herd healthy
By Jonathan Riley
CATTLE bought in to replace BSE cohorts must be isolated and disease profiles matched before they are integrated with the existing herd.
Somerset-based vet Roger Eddy says it has been normal practice for pig and poultry producers to take preventative measures against disease but cattle producers still do not take enough care to cut risks when buying in stock.
"Cattle could be carrying mastitis, digital dermatitis, leptospirosis, IBR, BVD and a number of other viruses. And imported stock could be carrying additional diseases. So stock must be isolated for 30 days to allow time for underlying diseases to incubate and produce symptoms," says Mr Eddy.
Enough space, at least 3m (10ft), should be allowed between replacements and existing stock to prevent transfer of disease. He advises using a dedicated barn as an isolation ward or, when cattle are outside, ensuring they are kept in fields away from the herd.
While in quarantine, he advises blood testing replacements for BVD, leptospirosis and IBR to establish a disease profile which can be compared with the profile of the rest of the herd. Preventative measures against parasites should also be given during this period.
The National Cattle Associations Roland Kershaw-Dalby says that producers must bear in mind that if incoming cattle are clean, they could contract disease from the rest of the herd. He suggests putting two or three cull cows with incoming stock when they arrive on the farm. "These cows will then pick up diseases from the replacements and vice versa and indicate which diseases the replacements are carrying without the full impact of a disease outbreak on the entire herd," he says.
He also advises that when buying stock producers should find out which diseases they have been treated against. "Spend time talking to the owner and get cattle out of pens and walk them around to check their feet and general health. And, avoid buying heifers that are close to calving because stress could jeopardise their pregnancy and subsequent lactation.
"When replacements are delivered make sure the lorry unloads away from the existing herd and clear straw and muck from the area before burning it. As they leave the quarantine area dispose of muck from pens away from sites used by the rest of the herd," he adds. *
• Four weeks quarantine.
• Treat against parasites.
• Blood tests – IBR/BVD/lepto.