Sheep, Beef & More Healthly Plans

Animal Health Plans and Advisory Services

Our vets are able to assist you in a variety of areas that can bring added value to your farming enterprise. Sitting down and making a year planner for your Animal Health treatments and interventions can help clarify areas of strength and weakness in your farming enterprise. 

Other packages we offer include; a whole farm service, drench resistance and management, livestock monitoring, and advice on the fleet of new genetic tests that are available. Many farmers have found starting with an Animal Health Plan has been invaluable. Contact us today if you are interested in this or any other advisory service. 

Footrot Control

Lame sheep and footrot can be a considerable hand-break on flock productivity, not to mention a huge drain on time and resources dealing with it. Progress toward reducing the impacts of footrot can be made with a solid plan for each season. Understanding the dynamics between the environment, the bacterial agents involved and the flock is a key step in the planning process. Each farm system is different so a farm specific footrot plan is required to apply the tools we have to best effect.  We do many of these planning sessions with clients who find the exercise very worthwhile, with what can be a frustrating and demoralizing disease to deal with. 

There are a number of tools available as part of footrot management. We go through a logical process for each farm as to how best to apply them:

  • Troughing Guidelines
  • Anitibiotics
  • Vaccination
  • Trimming
  • Culling
  • Genetic Selection

The veterinary Centre has been actively involved with conducting field trials into footrot treatments. Recently Micotil antibiotic has been trialed against Lincospectin and shown very promising results. This antibiotic is not currently going through the regulatory processes to be imported into New Zealand for commercial use.

Feet First

The Veterinary Centre has the contract to collect samples for the Merino New Zealand feet first project. It is an ambitious attempt to uncover the DNA code for footrot tolerance. To crack this would be a huge advancement, even revolution for the merino breed. They are screening 50,000 DNA markers for differences between infected and non-infected sheep.

The goal is to come up with a breeding value for footrot tolerance. If successful this will be significantly more powerful than current DNA technologies. But to reach this point we need as many farms to submit samples, ideally before the winter kicks in. Please get in touch with your Merino NZ rep, or Dave Robertson at the Veterinary Centre for further information.

Faecal Egg Count Reduction Tests

Drench resistance is widespread throughout the country, and often an unseen cost to your business. A recent trial on a farm with known BZ (white drench) resistance saw a comparison in growth rates between lambs treated with either a BZ (albendazole) drench or one of the new actives (Startect).

The following outcomes were seen:

  • Liveweight gain advantage of 2.5kg per month in Startect treated lambs
  • 55% of Startect lambs reached 38kg before the 3rd treatment vs 29% of the ABZ group.
  • Startect lambs had a 9kg liveweight advantage.

The lambs from the BZ treated group were not scouring and did not “look to be affected”. 

The only way to find out what drenches work on your farm is to do a Faecal Egg Count Reduction Test (FECRT). The farmers that have done these tests are in a much stronger position when it comes to choosing drench products and managing the effects of parasitism. One of our clients said publically at a recent road show event that doing a reduction test and the information that was discussed afterwards has completely changed the way he thinks about parasite management and was one of the best things he’s done for the farm. 

We usually carry out the test after weaning (as egg counts start to rise). To ensure we have high enough egg counts we recommend cutting out 80-100 lambs, avoid drenching this group, and preferably run them in a paddock that has recently had lambs in it (contaminated). Once egg counts are over 400epg we can visit to collect some pre-samples and drench the lambs with a variety of drench actives. We then return 10 days later and collect more samples for egg counts and larval culture. Advise us throughout the year if you would like to set up a FECRT on your property. 

Sheep Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is an excellent way to introduce new genetics into your flock. We have had good results with our laparoscopic AI programs last year. If you are interesting in using our services this year there are a few general things to consider.

  • Provision of teaser rams. Ewes are synchronised to ovulate therefore need a 1:10 teaser to ewe ratio. It is also good practice to tease ewes 17 days prior to program to induce 1st (and less fertile heat). Therefore TEASER NEED PREPARED IN JANUARY. 
  • Ensure adequate body condition, nutrition and mineral status of ewes (selenium, iodine) leading up to AI.
  • Drench and prevent fly.
  • Vaccinate for campy and toxo 1 month prior.
  • Secure semen order and semen quality. It is good insurance to get a straw tested.

The synchrony of the ewes is a 12-14 day process. Expect 50-80% conception rate. 

Speak to Dave Robertson for further details and a competitive price. 

Beef Bull Capacity Exams and Blood Testing

It is a  prudent measure and cheaper than insurance to get your bulls capacity tested prior to mating. A capacity test can identify high and low libido bulls, picking up serving and locomotive faults prior to them having any impact. Feet defects can be addressed and disease status (such as BVD ) determined.  Even if faults are not detected indications of how many cows each bull can handle can be inferred and dominance status identified and managed.

  • BVD vaccine boosters should be given to sire bulls. Most should have had 2 shots prior to your purchase of them. Check with the stud breeder. 
  • Remember yearling bulls being sold into the dairy industry need to have a clear BVD antigen test and many require a 2 shot course of BVD prior to sale.

Pregnancy Testing

Traditionally we have identified wet-dry’s when pregnancy testing beef cows. With the introduction of portable backpack scanners into the clinic we are now able to offer even greater flexibility by identifying late calving cows (or even aging all calves).

The advantages offered by identifying late calving cows include:

  1. Immediate culling of empty cows.
  2. Easing winter feed pressures.
  3. If feed pressures dictate, late calvers can also be culled prior to winter. 
  4. Preferential feeding of early calvers can be instigated. 
  5. If numbers permit late calvers can be culled to tighten the calving spread.

It is best to scan around 6 weeks after the bull is removed for identification of late calvers, while straight wet/dry scanning can be done anytime after 6 weeks. 

BVD control programs for beef herds.

Bovine Viral Disease (BVD) is widespread with most beef herds having been exposed and 65% of herds having active infections. The New Zealand BVD steering committee believes it to be “one of the most important viral diseases of cattle in NZ” with the cost calculated at $3000- 9000 per 100 breeding cows per year in infected herds. The cost is due to increased empty rates, the replacement cost of empty cows and the loss of weaner calves. 

We recognise as a practice that every farming operation is different and as a result we tailor the testing and control measures for each farm.  We base a control programme around the following BVD steering committees guidelines 

  1. Assessing the BVD biosecurity of your herd.
  2. Defining the BVD status of your herd.
  3. Action an appropriate control plan for your farm.
  4. Monitor BVD status of your herd regularly.

To compliment this we have access to the latest laboratory tests and information regarding the disease.  If you wish to discuss this disease more fully don’t hesitate to contact one of our vets at your local Veterinary Centre.