Vet Certification for Transport

As the mating season concludes many farms will be looking to offload bulls and start making decisions over cull cows.  It is during this time we see an increased requirement for veterinary transport certificates.  It is a legal requirement that animals are fit for transport.  The certificate remains valid for 7 days from the date of examination and the animal must be slaughtered at the nearest processing plant.

What we need from you:

  • An area to adequately examine and restrain the animal when required
  • The animal tagged with a recordable number for identification
  • The location of the processing plant and when killing space has been booked.

From a veterinary point of view:

Due to increased scrutiny being placed on transport certificates by MPI, there is strict criteria that we as veterinarians must follow.  Below are common conditions requiring certification and the associated requirements.

Penile conditions: Bulls must be able to urinate freely, not have any haemorrhage, swelling, abscessation or discharge from the area surrounding the penis.

Cancer eye: The cancer cannot be larger than a $1 coin (2cm) confined to the eye or eyelid (not spreading), not bleeding or discharging pus.

Lameness: Great emphasis is now being placed on lame animals being transported for slaughter.  Lameness is scored 0-3.  Grade 2 animals may be certified fit for transport with specific instructions such as reduced pen density.  The link below is the Dairy NZ lameness scoring system and I strongly encourage all farmers to view the following video to assess whether the animal is a suitable candidate for certification. 

https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/cow-health/lameness/lameness-scoring/

Polioencephalomalacia

We are once again seeing several cases of P.E. (polio encephalomalacia), a nervous disease seen primarily in calves and younger stock.  P.E. is caused by a lack of vitamin B1 (not to be confused with a cobalt deficiency, which is associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency).  P.E. is thought to be nutritionally induced, when there is a sudden change in diet from stalky, higher DM diet, to a lush, low fibre diet.  A high dietary sulphur intake, especially with brassica's, has also been incriminated as a cause of P.E.  Calves with P.E. appear blind, may walk aimlessly, appear wobbly, have muscle tremors and head press.  If calves are treated early in the disease process with a series of vitamin B1 injections, survival rates are good.  In an outbreak situation we have had good success, by prophylactically treating the remaining, unaffected calves, in the group with an oral vitamin B1 drench.  This has proved a very cost effective preventative measure.

Booking In A Pregnancy Testing Date

Everyone is now fully aware of the tremendous benefits of doing an early aged pregnancy test - these include:

  • Providing information for strategic dry off dates
  • Aiding in early culling decisions for destocking in Autumn
  • Formation of wintering groups for tailored feeding
  • Feed budgeting for the winter period and early lactation
  • Efficiency in time and transport logistics of cows from run-off back to milking platform
  • Detailed reproductive analysis to help guide where continued future improvements may be made
  • Bench marking against the rest of the district
  • Improving the saleability of a herd
  • Identification of cows which have received multiple inseminations but conceived to the first mating
  • Ranking cows for culling
  • Accurately identifying cows which conceived in the early bull mating period
  • Provision of detailed supportive material for possible induction dispensation requests

To provide this information accurately cows should be pregnancy tested 12-15 weeks after the PSM date.  For a herd which started mating on the 23rd of October this would be between the 15th of January and the 5th of February.  The accuracy when dating pregnancies beyond 15 weeks start to diminish.  Herds should have had bulls removed for at least 40 days before an empty diagnosis can be confidently made.

For herds which are limiting their mating period to strictly 10 weeks it would be possible to do a singular test at 15-15.5 weeks after the PSM.  The reality however is that it would not be possible to get all herds tested in the district within this very tight time frame.  We ask therefore that farms stick with the existing program of testing between 12-15 weeks after the PSM.  Cows identified as rechecks can then be simply drafted out for retesting 40 plus days after bulls removal.