June 2012 - Larkmead Veterinary Group

JUNE 2012
Firstly, a warm welcome to everyone who has joined us from Valley Vets. Some of you were
looked after by Neil Partridge from Valley Vets for many years and we hope that we can make
the transition between practices as smooth as possible. If you have any concerns or queries,
please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01491 651479 .
Introducing Ariane Pritchard who recently joined the Larkmead farm animal
team having graduated from Royal Veterinary College in 2011. After
graduation she spent several months working as a farm animal locum vet in
Norfolk. Ariane has a keen interest in dairy herd health and production
having worked on a large dairy farm for many years before and during her
veterinary studies.
How Fertile are Your Bulls?
Sub-optimal bull fertility can be a huge stumbling block in achieving and
maintaining a compact calving pattern. In a survey of South East
Scotland in 2005 1 in 3 bulls tested were found to be sub-fertile. This is
an alarming statistic, suggesting that on a 100 cow herd with 3 bulls,
one of the bulls may not be up to the job.
At Larkmead we offer a Bull Breeding Soundness Examination (BBSE)
service. This involves a thorough physical examination including
palpation of the testes and measurement of scrotal circumference (size does matter!). We also evaluate
a semen sample obtained by electro-ejaculation to assess sperm motility and morphology. This can be
invaluable if poor fertility is detected. In the worst case scenario a new bull can be purchased in time for
the start of service, or if the bull is less fertile than his counterparts the service groups can be adjusted
to give him fewer cows, but still maintain high PD positive rates across the herd.
In fertility terms the bull is half the herd. Good fertility last season is no guarantee that your bull will
perform well this season. BBSE 6-8 weeks prior to service can (and often does) identify bulls that may
give you problems. If you would like to know more about this please call us at the surgery on 01491
651479 and speak to one of our vets.
Fly Strike Alert!
We have noticed a high number of animals over the last few weeks with
loose faeces, as a result of the wet lush grass, so it is worthwhile taking
precautions to prevent fly strike. Fly strike involves invasion of an animal by
maggots; maggots are the larval stage of flies. Fly strike is seen in all species
but animals with long coats are most likely to be affected. Flies are attracted
to unhygienic areas of the body, especially around the back-end and fly
strike is therefore more likely in animals with loose faeces.
Prevention involves the use of fly repellents (ear tags or pour-ons) (Crovect is
a useful product to have on the shelf as it not only repels flies, but also kills maggots). Good general
hygiene of the animal’s surroundings is important, and dagging of loose sheep may also be worth
considering. If an animal is affected by fly strike, call the practice for advice on treatment.
Justine Shotton reporting on her recent
trip to Denmark
I recently enjoyed an educational trip to Denmark,
funded by Elanco, with the aim of gaining an
understanding of Danish pig production systems and
how they compare with pig units in the UK. Over 90% of
Danish production is indoors and their intensive
systems and high genetics mean that their productivity
is considerably higher than in the UK where there is a
more equal split of indoor and outdoor herds.
The standard of welfare on pig units in the UK is much higher than in Continental Europe and it is
important to educate the public to make them aware of these differences. Having said that, the Danes
are on the whole ready for the EU banning of dry sow stalls, which comes into place in early 2013, but
many of the smaller units will shut down as they are unable to comply with this change. This reflects the
general world-wide trend of having fewer, bigger, higher production and more mechanised units rather
than the historic small-farm scenario.
Organic meat fetches high prices (almost 200% above the normal price) in Danish supermarkets and it
was interesting to see the Organic system there working well. The use of many drugs which we have
more freely available in the UK are banned in Denmark so antibiotic selection and minimising the use of
antibiotics has become very important to them. We should try to follow their lead with reducing our
antibiotic usage and using culture and sensitivity results to try to minimise the risk of increasing
resistance problems and to ensure we protect the functionality of our medicines for future years. On
the other side of things, we should continue to encourage the use of the excellent vaccines we have
available to protect against pig diseases before they have a chance to take hold. This has been an active
change in Denmark and many of the Danish farms visited were using more vaccines against more
infectious agents than many UK farms do. As with any disease, prevention is always better than cure
and preventing the onset of many of the common pig diseases will impact no only on general herd
health but also feed conversion ratio and productivity.
I picked up some interesting approaches to management while I was in Denmark, including taping up
baby gilts’ teat lines to protect them post-farrowing and various different methods of split suckling, as
well as observing different practices which are rarely seen in the UK, including castration of male piglets
and the use of predator flies to keep down the nuisance fly populations.
Defra launches Round 2 of the Farm and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS).
FFIS is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and is a scheme of support,
developed to help farming, forestry and horticultural businesses in England to become more
efficient at using resources. Applications need to be in by 5:00pm on Tuesday July 17 2012.
The scheme funds 40% of the cost of eligible items from successful applicants.
The maximum grant that can be applied for is £25,000, and the minimum grant is £2,500. Eligible
items listed under FFIS are Nutrient Management, Energy Efficiency, Water Resource Management,
Animal Health & Welfare and Forestry.
Full details and application form are available on the RDPE website at:
Larkmead Veterinary Group
Tel:01491 651479
Ilges Lane
Fax:01491 652072
Chol sey ~
OX10 9PA
E -mail: [email protected]
website: www.larkmead.co.uk
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