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Fully aware of the financial implications of high cell count and mastitis incidence on a farming enterprise, the cattle team has built up a wealth of experience in dealing with such situations, both in a preventative sense and in response to sudden and chronic problems.
The use of NMR data through the InterHerd and Herd Companion programmes enables us to produce a monthly cell count report that is examined by the vet responsible for each particular farm. This report identifies potential new infections, enables selection of cows for treatment, sampling, drying off or grouping, as well as allowing us to monitor success of treatments and impact of management changes. By doing this month on month, the situation is not allowed to drift or, worse still, deteriorate.
Use of the Total Vet programme enables us to analyse clinical mastitis records as well as cell counts. This helps us to identify very farm specific areas of concern.
We all know that successful resolution of a problem as complex as mastitis cannot be achieved by looking at computer data alone. To cover all bases, we carry out full mastitis investigations on farm, that take in not only parlour routine, but all aspects of cow husbandry, from housing to nutrition. We have vets trained to implement the DairyCo Mastitis Control plans which produce targeted farm specific control plans.
Regular teat scoring on many farms allows us to monitor teat condition, particularly teat-end hyperkeratosis. This condition can increase the risk of mastitis if it is widespread in a herd, and can indicate faults within the milking machine.
Our in-house laboratory allows rapid results during mastitis outbreaks to assist in management decisions.
We encourage all clients to have routine fertility sessions booked with their designated vets, ensuring that fertility issues can be monitored on a regular basis. These sessions can be weekly, fortnightly or four weekly depending on your requirements. To assist with our fertility work we use Easi-Scan ultrasound scanners, which can be run from the mains or from battery packs, meaning we have scanners to suit all handling set-ups. Back in the office, analysis of NMR/ InterHerd data allows emerging trends in the herd's fertility to be monitored ensuring we can take a pro-active approach to any issues.
The use of bulls instead of, or alongside, AI is becoming increasingly common as labour available to spot bulling cows declines. The consequences of an infertile bull in these situations can be severe. Often the first sign that something is amiss is when the cows are found empty on pregnancy diagnosis, by which point a lot of time has been lost and the calving pattern disrupted.
At The George Farm Vets, we provide a full bull fertility testing service using the latest in bull electro-ejaculator equipment. This enables us to collect samples from the bull without the need for a bulling cow, and with the bull safely restrained in a crush. A full physical examination of the bull is carried out at the same time and the results from the semen examination are available within 24 hours. This service can be used when buying a new bull, before introducing an existing bull after a period of inactivity or if a problem is identified at routine fertility sessions.
We offer an embryo implantation service for repeat breeder cows.
Alongside fertility and mastitis, lameness is one of the most costly on-farm problems we face. Above the obvious costs of culling lame cows and veterinary treatment of individuals, even mildly lame cows suffer production losses, eat less and take longer to conceive successfully, all adding to the costs incurred. Never is the old adage "prevention is better than cure" more appropriate than with lameness.
To aid monitoring of herd lameness levels we advocate regular mobility scoring, which involves observing the whole herd walk on level ground, to give the percentage of cows with impaired mobility. This gives a true picture of lameness on the farm, allowing intervention levels to be set as well as providing a base level to assess the effectiveness of treatments and/or management changes.
To help improve the effectiveness of both routine and corrective foot trimming, the practice runs a very popular 2 day practical foot trimming training course. Each person receives individual instruction and gets the chance to trim the feet of many cows under the direct supervision of our vets.
We also use our knowledge of housing, genetics and nutrition to link issues seen on farm, allowing you to get the most from your herd.
Metabolic assessment is an important way to monitor how well cows are coping with the increased metabolic demands placed on them by modern farming. Whilst a ration formulation may look good on paper, it is the cows who will tell you how well it suits them - we aim to work closely with clients and the farm nutritionist to identify and rectify any issues.
The use of metabolic profiles is increasing, and we work closely with the DHHPS (Dairy Herd Health and Productivity Service) to provide a comprehensive check on the diet's performance. Regular use of this service can monitor the effect of ration or management changes. Our in-house lab can also provide a mini-metabolic profile to give a more targeted assessment of the situation.
Use of NMR data on the Interherd programme allows us to monitor milk quality data and urea levels; this data can provide a useful warning system for production levels, herd nutrition and some fertility problems.
To make our ration evaluations more informative we perform several different techniques, including rumenocentesis, faecal and diet sieving, body condition scoring and rumen fill assessments. These techniques are useful when identifying the underlying causes for nutritional conditions such as LDAs and SARA.
As the future of your herd, home bred replacements are a valuable resource; keeping them healthy will save you money and produce the best quality heifers for the future.
In terms of disease investigation the most common conditions presented to us are calf scour and pneumonia outbreaks. As a practice we are well equipped to focus on the important disease control points: blood sampling to monitor colostrum intakes; on farm colostral quality checks; a wide range of diagnostic techniques to identify causative agents of scours and pneumonia; and can suggest immediate and longer term changes based on these facts, as well as looking at the environment and building design to minimise problems. More information can be found on our dedicated youngstock page.
We are aware of the different challenges facing our organic clients, and are experienced at working within the organic regulations. Our focus on preventative medicine ties in closely with the organic principles, and it is an approach we encourage on all farms, organic and conventional.
Our Organic Discussion Group brings organic farmers together, on a regular basis, to share knowledge and experience on all aspects of cattle health and production. A lot of the group's time is spent on farm trying to find practical ways to implement this knowledge in order to maximise profitability and improve animal health.
Cathy Morris has many years experience in homeopathy and is able to advise and dispense suitable remedies.
All 14 farm vets are registered APHA official veterinarians, licensed to perform TB testing, statutory brucellosis (abortion) enquiries and anthrax examination. We also have authorisation to issue licenses for export of stock and products.
In an attempt to reduce the financial implications of pre-movement TB testing, all pre-movement tests are booked as discounted visits with our hourly rates reduced by 20%.
Clients benefit from a fully equipped laboratory, set up for a wide variety of diagnostic techniques. Milk samples are tested for clinical or subclinical mastitis bacteria, with preliminary results available within 24 hours. Results are interpreted by our experienced cattle vets to give advice on the best treatment protocols for individual animals. We also have a somatic cell count machine that allows rapid turnaround for bulk tank results or individual cow/quarter samples. Blood tests (including full biochemistry profiles), faecal samples for worm egg and coccidial counts, and milk progesterone pregnancy tests are just some of the many other tests we can carry out in-house.
The practice is heavily involved in herd health planning for all types and sizes of farms. Our health plans are regularly updated to conform the requirements outlined by the British Red Tractor Standards Scheme. They are designed to help carry out a meaningful assessment and analysis of the farm data, in order to put in place practical management and husbandry measures that benefits both the welfare of the stock and the productivity of the farm. An automatic reminder system enables us to help you stay in date with your plan and avoid those last minute panics to get it updated!
The purchase of stock can be a significant risk factor for introducing disease to a naive herd. To help prevent this we suggest pre-purchase health status reports are obtained from the herd of origin. We arrange this by contacting the vendor's vets with a health status request; we are then best placed to advise you if the stock will match your herd, or if any other tests should be performed prior to purchase.