Jun 17

Johnes – taking action

Johnes – taking action
Several milk buyers are now requiring farms to have a johnes control plan in place. This may well be an unwelcome demand when the milk price is where it is, however in the longer term, having some kind of Johnes plan is really important.
There are several reasons for taking action on Johnes:
• Human health – it’s possible that Johnes in cows is linked to Crohnes disease in humans. It’s not proven, but it makes sense for us to make every effort to prevent any potential spread of disease through milk.
• Cow health – Johnes is incurable. Affected cows waste away and eventually die. Before they get to that stage, they often have other health issues such as high cell counts, poor fertility, poor production.
• Farm economics – Johnes can spread un-noticed in a herd. By the time a few cows are clinically affected, there could be lots of animals carrying the disease. The effects of the disease are expensive, and it can take years to get it under control.
So – if you know Johnes is present on your farm, it’s important to have a plan to reduce the spread. If you’ve never had a cow diagnosed with Johnes, it’s equally important to have a plan in place to find out whether it’s there – it often is. You can then nip it in the bud. A herd with an unknown Johnes status is a potential time bomb.
How does Johnes spread?
• An infected cow sheds loads of Johnes bacteria in her muck and milk (much more in muck than in milk).
• If a young calf comes into contact with either, it will probably become infected. (Adult cows are resistant – they won’t pick up an infection from another cow. Only young calves will pick up infection).
• The infected calf will carry the disease, without showing any signs, usually till it’s at least 3 years old. Eventually, it will start to scour and lose condition. Often these animals are just culled as poor performers, without ever knowing that Johnes was the cause.

A common scenario in a herd that doesn’t know it has Johnes is this:
A cow calves, passes muck in the calving pen, and spreads infection to the next 4-5 calves that are born. This goes un-noticed until those calves are in the milking herd and one or two of them start scouring. By this time, they’ve had calves of their own, which are likely to be infected, along with many others.
What should I do about Johnes?
The first step is blood or milk testing to find out whether there’s any johnes in your herd or not. Unfortunately, that’s not as straightforward as it seems. The test won’t detect young animals carrying the disease, until they get older and the disease gets closer to becoming clinical, so repeated tests are needed to find out which cows are affected.

After testing, the measures taken to control Johnes will vary from farm to farm, and will depend on the level of infection.

The main focus of any control plan is to ensure that young calves don’t pick up infection. Calving pens are the main source of infection, so taking measures to prevent calves coming into contact with muck from cows of unknown Johnes status is the key. Milk is also a source of infection, so you need to ensure that any milk fed to calves is not from potential Johnes cows.

Many farms already have a Johnes control plan in place. Every farm is different, so any plan needs to be tailored to an individual farm. Speak to a vet about what the best course of action is for your own farm.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/johnes-taking-action/

Apr 08

Lambing time records

LambsKeeping some simple figures at lambing time can really help us to make improvements within your flock.

Even if the most basic tally chart was kept at lambing time it would give us something to work on.

Basic information to keep: Number of lambs born dead, number of lambs died after born alive, number of ewes died over lambing period, number of lambs marked, Number of lambs sold later in the year.

Relate these figures back to scanning results.

National average for losses between number lambs scanned and number sold is a much as 22% really we should be aiming for 10% loss or less.

The more details/ records kept the better chance we have of improving productivity. Beyond basic records would include: number stuck lambing, number of prolapses (pre and post) number of cases of watery mouth, scour, joint ill. Weight gains and a calculated DLWG of the growing lamb.

If you would like a recording sheet for basic and more detailed information please pick one up from the practice.



Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/lambing-time-records/

Apr 08

Mud Fever

With this prolonged wet weather, horse owners should be on the lookout for signs of mud fever, which affects horses lower legs. It is a common condition that affects horses living and working in wet muddy conditions. The skin over the pasterns and heels becomes infected, resulting in scabby or exudative lesions which can be very painful. Mud fever mainly occurs in the winter months with white limbs more susceptible.

Clinical signs of mud fever include mild skin irritation and infected sores which can be VERY painful. The disease can actually affect the whole body of the horse and is given different names depending on what part of the body it affects. When it occurs along a horses back that is kept outside without a rug, it is known as rain scald or rain rash.

Causes: There are many factors which can be divided into predisposing factors and infectious causes.

Predisposing factors include: The horses own genetic makeup – horses with feathers may be more prone to it, physical and chemical irritants which damage skin, environment and other infections such as ringworm/mites.

Infectious causes include: Bacteria such as Dermatophilus congolensis and Staphylococcus spp.

Environmental change, such as removing the horse from the cause – wet muddy fields, will decrease the risk. The horse should be stabled with clean, dry bedding. Straw may damage the skin so shavings are best.

Treating the lesions: The affected area should be clipped carefully, then an antiseptic wash, such as hibiscrub, should be used to remove as much skin debris as possible. The skin should be then gently rinsed and dried with clean tissue. There are many topical treatments to maintain hydration of the skin. Severe cases may need a long course of antibiotics.

Mud fever is a difficult condition to treat and it may take many weeks for lesions to heel. Some people find that applying a barrier cream helps prevent susceptible horses from the disease. Also protective boots and bandages may be used during turnout.

Dermatophilus congolensis can survive in crusts of scab and exudate for up to 3 years. Chronically infected animals are a source of soil contamination. Infection can be spread on shared grooming equipment, so be careful to sterilise them.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/mud-fever/

Apr 08

Itchy Cattle

MicroscopeSymptoms of itchiness and hair loss in housed cattle at this time of the year may be a sign of lice infection. However other causes such as cattle scab and other types of mites should also be considered.

Lice may be seen on the skin if you look carefully however to confirm, bring us a sample of any scabs and hair (include crusty material around the base of the hair) from the affected area and we can examine this under the microscope – this ensures that the appropriate treatment is given.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/itchy-cattle/

Apr 08

Heifer Pelvic Measurements

Our new pelvic meter has arrived! It is designed to measure the width of heifers pelvis’s to help indicate what size calf the heifer would be able to calve. This indication can then help decide on whether to breed from or fatten the heifer. If you would like to trial this service please contact us for more details!

Pelvic Meter


Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/heifer-pelvic-measurements/

Apr 08

Top tips for controlling Digital Dermatitis in cattle

Digital Dermatitis is a serious problem on many dairy herds, and an increasing number of beef herds. If a high proportion of the herd is affected it can have a severe impact on yields and fertility. It’s not easy, but it is definitely possible to keep it under control.

Digital Dermatitis

First – if you don’t have Digi on your farm – if you’ve never seen lesions like the one on the picture – keep it out! Don’t buy in cattle, and ensure that all foot trimming equipment is cleaned and disinfected before coming onto your farm.

Once it’s on your farm, it’s unlikely you’ll eliminate it, but you can control it. Think of it like controlling cell counts – you have to keep at it:

Hygiene is important – keep feet as clean as possible. Run automatic scrapers as frequently as possible, ensure ventilation and drainage is good, and keep any straw yards dry and well bedded.

Foot bathing is essential. What goes into the footbath is less important than how it’s done:

Ensure it’s deep enough to cover the hoof completely

Check the volume of the footbath, and calculate the correct concentration:

A 200litre footbath will need 6 litres of formalin or 6kg of copper sulphate to make a 3% solution.

Around 200cows is generally the most you should put through a footbath before changing it, though that depends on the size and how clean the feet are.

Frequency is the key to success – if there’s a lot of Digi about, you’ll have to footbath more frequently. Many farms footbath 5 days a week; farms with less of a problem may get away with twice a week.

Make it easy! Set up a system that becomes part of the normal routine.

Antibiotic footbaths are effective, but shouldn’t be used routinely. Digi can be kept under control by regular footbathing with formalin, copper sulphate, or other proprietary products (if using formalin, make sure you’re not breathing in the fumes when milking – it’s nasty stuff). If Digi is allowed to get out of control, an antibiotic footbath may be needed to get it back under control, before starting a regular programme of routine footbathing. Antibiotic footbaths are off-licence, and a potential risk for antibiotic resistance, so we should avoid using them where possible (they’re also expensive!).

If you’re seeing Digi amongst your cows, speak to a vet about the best way to get on top of it on your farm.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/top-tips-for-controlling-digital-dermatitis-in-cattle/

Feb 17

Vitamin D deficiency – Fact and fiction in sheep

Back in 2007 there were diagnosed rickets in a range of hill hoggs (swales, cheviots and herdwicks) investigated by the VLA in 7 flocks in Northern England. Most were returning from wintering on dairy farms.

They showed signs of:

  • ‘Tip-toeing’
  • Stiffness
  • Prolonged recumbency
  • Two bowed legs

They were confirmed by bloods and post-mortem, most suspected D3 deficiencies had been anacedotal up until then. In those less severely affected a vitamin D drench was used and improvement was seen. Vitamin Drenches in sheep are adequate for approximately 6 weeks in the face of a dietary deficiency of D3.

At latitudes greater than 550 N, levels of UV radiation are adequate for synthesis of vit D3 between mid-March and mid-September only. It is likely that many sheep are subclinically deficient at northerly latitudes in winter and this may present as ‘poor doing’ hoggs. This is all variable depending on the weather conditions. They need early treatment i.e when ‘poor doing’ and ‘tip-toeing’ rather than before bones start deforming as once this happens there is no effective treatment.

If you are worried about wintering hoggs please ring us to discuss. There is an injectable vit D3 available but we have to import this so need a couple of weeks notice.Swaledale Sheep

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/vitamin-d-deficiency-fact-and-fiction-in-sheep/

Feb 17

Barren Ewe Check

Are you experiencing a high number of geld sheep at scanning?

If so please phone us as there is some blood testing we can do to check for toxoplasma and enzootic abortion? The lab fees are free for a few months so the only costs will be the visit and time to blood sample 6-8 ewes.Scanning sheep

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/barren-ewe-check/

Feb 17

Beef Discussion Group

Another great turnout at the Royal Oak last week for our Beef Discussion Group, following a hot supper and a few pints Dan Griffiths gave us a really interesting talk on fertility and how a compact calving period can increase farm profits significantly (notes to follow…). Andrew followed up with a talk on Trace Element Deficiency and how this can affect productivity both in terms of daily live weight gain and number of calves on the ground.

Following a spring break our next meeting will be in June. MorBeere info to follow.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/beef-discussion-group/

Feb 17


As far as we are aware we will be allocated the same number of bottles of scabivax as last year. They will roll into us on the months they were ordered last year.

We are trying our best to get extra doses in so please contact us in advance so we can add more to the order.Scabivax

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/scabivax/

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