The role of the veterinary surgeon has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. In the current climate the veterinary surgeons role is moving away from the emergency work to an involvement in herd management and production.
Cattle health schemes are targeted at enabling vets and farmers to spend time looking at the herd and identifying problem areas. This allows the formulation of a plan to allow both farmer and vet to build a close working relationship which is aimed at improving herd health, welfare and economics. Flock health plans are an equally useful tool for the sheep farmer in reducing disease incidence, improving productivity and profitability.
Both herd and flock health schemes are being formulated throughout the practice range. If you are interested please contact the surgery and speak to one of the large animal vets
A tight calving period is essential in maximising herd productivity. There are a number of factors affecting whether this can be achieved ranging from cow health, disease status to the one that is most often forgotten, bull health and fertility.
Management plays a huge role in the health of your bull; correct feeding and condition score, ensuring he is not over worked, and is free from lameness and clinical disease, but this is not the whole story. It is rare for bulls to be infertile however a sub-optimum level of fertility is very common. Fertility testing can be done on farm and is easily carried out provides you accurate information regarding your bull fertility status.
We recommend that testing should be carried out yearly at least 2½ - 3 months before you require your bull to work. This means there is plenty of time to resolve any problems that we may find. In addition testing of breeding bull stock over a year old allows any sale to be supported with a veterinary certificate regarding his status at the time of testing.
Please remember the introduction of a new bull into a herd should always be considered a disease risk.
All of the above can be said for rams and it is important to get your them tested at least 8 -10 weeks before tupping to give us time to resolve any problems.
Fertility examination of a herd should look at the bull and the cows. We have the facilities to scan cows from 28 days and would recommend that all herds are scanning their cattle to determine pregnancy 6-8 weeks after the bulls have been removed.
We can examine any non-pregnant cows and determine a specific course of action including fertility treatment where necessary.
The benefits of having a compact calving period have been well documented over the years and include easier management of cows and their resulting offspring to reduced labour costs.
It is important not to forget the bulls role in fertility and to test him at least 10 weeks before he is due to go in with the cows.
We also offer routine dairy fertility visits on a weekly, twice weekly or monthly basis as required.
In the modern farming climate there is an increasing role for the vet to play in prophylatic disease prevention. Invariably disease will still occur and individual cattle, sheep or pigs will become ill, however it is obviously preferable to reduce the impact of disease through preventative measures than pick up the pieces after an outbreak.
A herd or flock health plan can play an invaluable role in this regard.
Vaccination can play a very important role in protecting stock against a wide range of pathogens from viral diarrhoeas, pneumonias, abortion, footrot, orf, clostridial diseases and Johne’s disease.
It is obviously not economically viable to cover every animal with every vaccine available. Surveillance blood testing allows for a targeted vaccination programme appropriate to your herd or flock to be established. In many instances a simple matter of blood sampling six representative animals provides adequate information and laboratory fees are often subsidised by relevant drug companies.
It is not only diseases that impacts on viability of the flock or herd enterprise. Metabolic imbalances and trace element deficiencies can have an equally devastating effect. It should be noted that over supplementation of minerals to animals without a deficiency is of no benefit and at best represents a waste of money.
Once again appropriate targeted blood sampling is essential in recognising problems and establishing the correct remedial nutrition or supplementation.
We have, within the practice, the capability to perform quantitative worm egg counts using faecal microscopy . This enables us to establish an accurate indication of the levels of worm infestation in the herd or flock. Moreover, follow up counts provide useful information as to how effective the worming regime employed on a farm might be.
With worm resistance rendering some wormers less and less effective, it is essential for a farmer to establish that not only is he worming at the appropriate times (and hence also avoiding over use of wormers) but in addition is using a product that will prove effective. Faecal egg counts can be performed rapidly at the practice for a nominal fee and enable the farmer, in consultation with the vet, to draw up a tailored, effective and economic flock or land herd worming programme.
Surgical procedures involving farm animals vary from castrations and dehorning of young bulls, digit amputations, ovine and bovine caesarean sections to abdominal surgery in cattle.
Now that we have moved to the new surgery at Whorral Bank we have are able provide intensive hopsitalisation care for all our farm animal patients. Practicalities of transport and restraint result in the majority of procedures involving adult cattle being performed on farm. Any procedures, however, involving sheep (lambings, caesareans, digit amputation, ram vasectomies etc.) or calves of 80kg or less (hernia operation, drips etc.) have the option of being performed at our Morpeth surgery. Whenever possible, it is beneficial if a farmer can ring and inform our staff of his intention to bring sheep or calves to the surgery to avoid unnecessary waiting.
Whilst our staff will be able to offer advice regarding legislation, specific licensing requirements through DEFRA are prone to change and this can be implemented at short notice; as such we would encourage you always to check the DEFRA website (www.defra.gov.uk) to check current legislation.
DISPOSAL OF OLDER CATTLE
A review of the appropriate legislation for the disposal of cattle born before or after lst August 1996 is provided at the following link (www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bse/otm/review/index.html.)
SOLE OCCUPANCY AUTHORITY (SOA)
An SOA allows the movement of FMD susceptible livestock within and between grazings and premisies under single ownership or rental and recognised as a single farming unit even where more than one CPH numbers are involved.
An established, authorised and approved isolation facility on farm allows for the introduction of breeding rams or bulls without triggering a farm movement standstill.
MULTIPLE PICK UP AND DROP OFFS
This license permits an unlimited number of pick ups from licenced premises and delivery to a single destination (market) or conversely, transit from a single point of origin to an unlimited number of drop offs (market to farm).
Different facilities may be specified in the licence, the licence allowing for either the use of tail gating or double penning.
Vets within the practice hold a number of additional qualifications allowing for certification of exports of breeding animals and animal by products but in each circumstance DEFRA should be contacted first regarding provision of an appropriate licence.
This is carried out on a regular basis at intervals dependent on the parish in which you live. The tuberculosis skin test is an intradermal skin test which is used worldwide to identify infection with Mycobacterium bovis.
On 27th March 2007 pre-movement testing of cattle was introduced to help reduce the risk of spreading bTB between herds in areas previously free from disease.
All cattle over 42 days moving out of a one or two yearly tested herd must have a negative TB test within 60 days prior to movement. Owners must pay for these tests unless it coincides with a routine bTB surveillance test.
These rules apply to cattle movements to and from both grass keep and linked holdings.
In addition further private TB tests can be arranged on request eg on introduction of a new breeding bull.
We have within the practice vets experienced in the husbandry, medicine and surgery of the camelid species, including llamas and alpacas (and even the old world camels) We are equally willing to offer basic husbandry advice to the new owner or help an established camelid breeder with any aspects of their health programmes, including trace element monitoring, parasite control, vaccinations, castrations etc. Call the practice to discuss your individual requirements with one of our vets.
Unlike a number of counties to the south Northumberland does not have a high density of pig farms. We do, however, have outdoor and indoor pig units within our catchment. We are also involved with a number of smaller porcine enterprises. These include farm parks and private ownerships managing more exotic breeds such as the vietnamese pot-bellied and kuni-kuni, and the traditional old spots and tamworths.
Vets within the practice are FAB pig registered and are happy to discuss individual requirements.
Morpeth Whorral Bank
Staithes Lane Branch
Kirkley Hall - Ponteland