Management Crucial to Parasite Control in Deer

Your management is crucial to parasite control and the amount you have to rely on drench. You need to get into the mind set of constantly evaluating the level of parasite challenge you are exposing your weaners to.

  • Ingestion of infective parasites is higher the lower you force weaners to graze

  • Areas of the farm that are constantly used for weaner grazing will build up higher levels of infective worms

  • Utilise new pastures for weaners and “cleaner” pastures e.g. post-baleage/silage harvest

  • Weaners that are post-rut weaned tend to need less drenching through autumn

  • Use other livestock to “clean up” pastures behind weaners. Integrated farming will play a huge part in sustainable parasite control in future

  • When to start drenching weaners and how often is entirely dependent on the level of parasite challenge on an individual farm. We do know that infective lungworm and gut worms will be on many deer farms in January and animal health issues can arise which necessitate that first drench being given in late January/early February. This is particularly so on the more intensive deer farming operations.

    Local deer farmers who have had a drenching programme developed by the Veterinary Centre are now getting their animals away earlier at heavier weights.

Feet Soundness

Now is the time to sort out feet post weaning. It has dried out so spreading of footrot should have slowed down. Making a good job of inspecting all feet is important. Drafting off limping sheep is not very effective at removing infection from the mob. Antibiotic treatment of lame sheep seems most effective when the affected foot is deprived of moisture, and we have had some very good reports post treatment with tilmicosin (Micotil/Tilmovet). If there are still some signs of scald and early footrot in your flock then trough 2-3 times, 1 week apart to help break the cycle before rolling over and making a clean mob.

To keep the clean mob clean check again in 1 month. Catch anything limping or suspicious.

Treat infected animals with long acting tilmicosin (vet only administered). Re-check for cure in 14 days. Lincospecin and oxytetracycline are still available and can be administered by the farmer but to get really good cure rates grating in the woolshed for 24 hours post treatment is required.

We are planning on having some footrot workshops in March so let me know if you and your staff are interested in attending.

What comes with a Green Summer?

Worm control: with the extended, wetter than normal summer worm control is very important. Missing a drench or extending intervals could lead to rapid build-up and contamination of pastures.

Wormwise - Seasonal Update: many of you have attended our Road Show events or read about sustainable worm control message. I thought for each seasonal period I would break down some of the key messages.

Lambs post weaning:

  • Use an effective combination drench. A triple combination or novel is best.

  • Stick to a 28-30 day drench interval.

  • If you really think there has not been any significant worm challenge then monitor with faecal egg count to ensure your assumption is correct.

Pre-tup drenching of ewes:

  • Use the most effective drench.

  • Utilise some refugia - that is leave some undrenched. Tag/mark them to monitor.

That’s not too complicated? It is a worthwhile exercise to review your Animal Health habits and rationale with us….

How do I get a Reduction Test done? Easy

  • Tell us when you’ve got lambs in the yards for weaning.

  • Set aside 80-100 that don’t get drenched.

  • Get 10 faecal samples for an egg count to ensure enough worms are present.

  • Then we do the first visit when you are ready. (The first visit takes about an hour.)

  • A week later we return to collect the 2nd dung samples to see if any worms remain after the drench treatments.

  • We analyse the results and send a comprehensive report of the drench resistance status of your farm.

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Effective Flystrike Prevention Following a Wet Spring

Fly strike in sheep is one of those things that is best to put the effort into prevention. Coming back from Christmas holidays to find fly blown lambs and ewes is very demoralising. Even a 50c piece size area of fly strike can stop a ewe cycling for a month. For lambs the loss of growth, suffering and deaths, along with the time dealing with the mess, are enough for many to vow to get things sorted before Christmas next year….

The obvious measures are to ensure stock are clean and don’t get wormy. So crutching and a regular effective drenching program are essential pillars to preventing fly.

There are generally 3 waves of fly pressure, the first few appearing around December, then the second and bigger wave in mid-summer and the third wave mid-autumn. This is important when planning your program especially in relation to persistent activity and application time.

Your fly-lice program for your sheep flock can be complex with the range of chemicals now available. There is a general move towards being more aware of chemical resistance and using these resources in a planned and sustainable way.

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Animal Health in a Growthy Spring

It is a great opportunity with the current conditions to feed animals optimally, establish winter feed crops and recharge supplement supplies. However, many farmers comment that stock don’t “do” in lush, growth conditions.

November Animal Health to consider taking action on:

  • Docking drench of ewes, especially if they have not had long acting treatments pre-lamb. We have had reports of ewes responding well to this. You can do a FEC (drench check) to work out if a docking drench is required, or just target lights and 2 tooths.

  • Pre-wearning tape drench of lambs. Tape drenches can provide an extra kilogram of liveweight gain if given one month prior to weaning compared with standard drenches.

  • A combination drench for yearling cattle, plus B12 and selenium if not previously addressed.

  • Fly was a big headache last year for many farmers. Clik spray-on is widely used in fine wool at tailing. It is in short supply this year, so ring Jeff to secure your order. Vetrazin spray-on, or Clik-zin spray-on is suitable for cross-breds.

  • If lice was an issue over the winter use a diflubenzuron jetting fluid (Zenith or Fleecemaster) for your fly-lice treatment. Use Cyrex if strike is present. For a pour-on option Encore will have good lice knock-down with reasonable fly protection - just be aware of the longer meat withhold period.

  • Feet are going to be a niggle this spring and summer, if preventative measures are not undertaken prior to Christmas. Treating lambs at tailing for lameness can be well worth it. Having an extra person squirting blue spray between scaldy toes works really well to break the cycle and keep their growth rate on track. Foot bathing cycles are also warranted post tailing.

B12 at tailing is there a benefit to supplementing lambs?

If ewes have not had a bionic capsule or boost of B12 pre-lambing there is a possibility that lambs could end up with depleted B12 levels by weaning time. We don’t routinely test for B12 levels in pre-weaned lambs, but I have found some ewes with marginal to deficient levels of B12 at pre-lamb. It therefore may be of benefit to top-up B12 levels at tailing in lambs before they become deficient.

A 0.5ml dose of smart shot can elevate B12 levels for ~3 months. Smart shot users seem to keep coming back to it and it is the only serious way to correct low B12/cobalt issues. Short acting B12 can be useful for maximizing weaning drafts if B12 levels are low.

Scabby Mouth

As tailing approaches so does the most practical opportunity to vaccinate against scabby mouth.  This is not new but it is timely to go over the basics to ensure your procedures are giving you an effective vaccination programme.

  • Scabby mouth infects animals through breaks in the skin resulting in raised red lesions and scabs.  Infections can occur anywhere on the body with the mouth, feet, udders and the poll of rams being very common.  Lamb infection results in significant effects on weight gains.
  • Lambs are most susceptible over their first summer so tailing is the most practical time to vaccinate.  Don't use the vaccine on farms that are free of the disease.
  • The best place to give the vaccination is the inside of the back leg unless fly treatments are being used, in which case the inside of the front leg should be used.
  • The vaccine is given by scratching the skin but don't scratch so firmly as to draw blood.  A blue dye is added to the vaccine so you can see where it has been applied.
  • Check the vaccination area of 20 lambs 7-10 days after vaccination to ensure that it has taken.  A take is a raised whitish line surrounded by an area of inflammation.
  • Keep the vaccine in a fridge until it is used and only take enough for the day.  During use keep it in a chilly bag and out of direct sunlight.
  • As scabby mouth can infect humans (orf) don't touch lesions or prick yourself with the vaccine.
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Options for the Successful Treatment of Bearings

Bearings are a function of internal pressure and vaginal wall integrity.  The internal pressure changes come from:

  • Rumen
  • Bladder
  • Uterus
  • Abdominal fat
  • Gravity

That's why triplets have the greatest risk (more uterus volume).  That's why gorge feeding, feed changes and bulky feed can be a risk: the rumen expands rapidly and produces more gas when not adjusted.  That's why sitting down for long periods, and high water content feed (fodderbeet and swedes) and salt can be a risk: the bladder gets bigger.  That's why weight gain post mating is a risk: increase in abdominal fat.  That's why low calcium levels are a risk: smooth muscle not as toned (and why Vitamin D might help).

For these reasons that why exercise throughout the day, consistent rumen fill and feeding levels are protective against bearings.  However we can't prevent them all.  Successful treatment of bearings relies on early detection, expression of the bladder, gentle and clean replacement and effective retention.  Exposure time is a prognostic indicator of success.  Early treatment involves thoroughly cleaning the vagina and gently lifting it to allow the ewe to urinate.  Following prolapse, ewes are unable to urinate due to a kink in the urethra.  Lubricant should always be used and gentle even pressure applied to replace the prolapse.  Replacing the bearing is easiest when the back end of the ewe is elevated.  Retention of the bearing can be by external pressure from a number of options including internal bearing retainers, harnesses or a purse string suture around the vulva with umbilical tape or suture.  All ewes should be prophylactically covered with antibiotics.  Suitable choices are a Penicillin of Tetracycline derivative.

Pre Lamb Drenching

Pre-lamb drench topic is a hardy annual topic for vet-farm discussions.  The fact is parasitism is always going to be a cost to production and as seasons and farm systems change, our approaches to worm control need to adapt.  I have been busy these last few days discussing pre-lamb animal health with farmers.  It is a process that I think is valued by those that want to rationalise their decisions each year.

I do encourage farmers to consider all the tools available and take on board the sustainable drench use message.

A key 1st principle message is to reduce larval challenge in young stock, and optimise breeding stock condition and feeding during lactation.  Farms that achieve this are not only going to beat the worms, they are going to be vastly more profitable.  The application is the complex bit......

To Do:

  • Get a plan for worm control this spring
  • Think what is best for my capital stock in the current conditions
  • Work some refugia into your plan.

Feeding Ewes Early Pregnancy

If ewes are in optimal condition, once passed the 1st cycle of mating, they do not need to continue to be gaining weight.  The excess of grass around this year means it will take proactive management not to allow breeding ewes to gain weight in the 1st trimester.  May to June is an opportune time to tidy up poorer quality paddocks or even feed-out 2nd year baleage to conserve green feed for later pregnancy.

I do not like to discourage farmers from feeding stock well, but there is some evidence showing that there is an increased bearing risk with weight gain through this period.  Yes lamb birth weight is affected by feeding levels at every stage of gestation, so it makes sense to save better quality and quantity of feed for twin bearing ewes after scanning.

Body Condition Scoring

BCS and feed budgeting is the way to take the guess-work out of this subject.  I expect more ewes should be in better than BCS 3 this mating and will be scanning well this year.  The next bit is to set them up for optimising lamb birth weight and survival without getting them stuck upside down cast or poking their back-end's out.

If there are lighter BCS ewes, then taking them out early for preferential treatment makes it possible to "re-build" condition from now to the point of lambing.  Adding BCS to light twinning ewes after scanning and shearing is hard to do with the bigger foetus taking a greater part of reserves.

Ewes Hoggets

The recommendation is slightly different for ewe hoggets.  These need to keep gaining body weight through mating and early pregnancy, ideally 4kg per month from now to the end of June should see a standard cross-bred hogget reach ~50kg.

Nitrate Poisoning

It is again the time of year when Nitrate Poisoning rears its ugly head.  With the widespread excellent autumn growth conditions, many farmers are taking advantage of applying nitrogen to boost growth leading into winter.  One thing we do know is that when plant growth is slowed by cold or overcast weather, plants will accumulate nitrate.  The first sign often seen in livestock is sudden death so plant testing is essential before placing stock on any at risk crop or pasture.  Drop samples into any of our clinics or arrange for our Territory Managers to come and sample.  We can test within the hour at all of our clinics or if large numbers of samples are required to be tested we can provide a kit and training on how to undertake samples yourself.

Free BVD Screening with Beef Pregnancy Testing

In previous seasons the Veterinary Centre has been able to secure funding to cover the lab fee component of BVD screening of beef cattle herds.  This year this initiative has been extended so that during pregnancy testing visits our vets are now able to take a set of samples from the herd and have them screened for BVD at no charge to the farmer.  This gives our practice the unique opportunity of effectively mapping our entire district for prevalence of BVD in practically all the beef herds in our district.  This information will be invaluable in guiding our veterinarians and farms in the make up of BVD control plans.  If you have any questions just talk to one of our beef pregnancy testing team.  There is nothing required from the farmer except to give permission to take the samples, our team will take care of the entire process and provide you with the results for your herd. 

Eclipse E Injection for calves now with B12 and Selenium

Eclipse E B12 and Selenium injection has just been launched and is the first of its kind worldwide and is now available through your local Blue Cross Veterinary Centre.

Parasite Control

Young stock need a drench with active ingredients from at least two of the three main "active" groups.  Eclipse E contains eprinomectin and levamisole.  Eprinomectin is particularly good at killing the parasite Ostertagia.  The levamisole is very good at killing the parasite Cooperia, so both actives work together to kill the two most important internal parasites in calves.

Minerals

 Vitamin B12 and selenium are both important trace minerals.

  • Selenium helps animals fight disease, grow and reproduce successfully.
  • Vitamin B12 is very important for the rumen microbes, and the animal itself, to be able to produce energy from grass.  To make B12 the rumen needs cobalt.  To correct a vitamin B12 deficiency, cobalt can be supplemented orally or B12 can be directly injected.

Convenience

The most significant feature of Eclipse E B12 plus Se is convenience.  Most young stock will be receiving selenised vitamin B12 (probably via a product called Prolaject 2000 plus selenium) and a separate oral or pour on drench treatment.  Now Eclipse E B12 plus Selenium injection will look after trace minerals and provide one of the most potent, (if not the most potent) double active drench combinations on the market.  At $2 per 140kg dose there is a lot to like about this new product.

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Manufacturing Failure - Flexidine!

There has been a manufacturing failure in the production of Flexidine long acting Iodine injection and there will be a limited supply available in 2018. The Veterinary Centre has been able to source a significant amount of available product and will allocate 50% of product to our clients based on last years usage.

Iodine is involved in egg and sperm development, ovulation, conception, pregnancy, lamb survivial and wool and milk production!

Note that halving the dose of Flexidine still gives significant iodine supplement but for a shorter duration.

Options to Consider:

  • Injecting a half dose (0.75mls) of Flexidine pre-tup, followed by Vet LSD (oral iodine, plus Vitamin A,D,E plus Selenium) 4 weeks pre-lamb
  • Drench Vet LSD (or oral iodine) pre-tup, and injecting a half dose Flexidine 4-8 weeks pre-lamb.
  • Drench Vet LSD (or oral Iodine) 3 weeks pre-tup, 8 weeks pre-lamb, and 4 weeks pre-lamb
  • Target a group for full dose Flexidine (say hoggets and two-tooths, where there is a higher lamb survival challenge).

These are some possible scenarios and there are obviously many more. Discuss the best options with our vets, with the aim of maintaining farm profitability in a realistic way, on your farm.

None of these options can give the surety of consistent iodine supplementation (for 8 months) delivered by a full dose of Flexidine but the aim is to find the best compromise.

Managing Lambs on Rocket Fuel Food

It is hard to knock sheep farming at the moment and in times like these I do start to have more conversation about those niggly deaths of ewes and lambs.  Probably the biggest cause of lambs deaths is not being organised to get clostridial vaccine into lambs.  I understand that lambs drafted off mothers are not around long enough to benefit from vaccinating, but after that there is value in preventing pulpy kidney.  For every dead lamb is the profit gone on another 4 live ones.

There are other causes of sudden death such as red gut and pneumonia, but we must never over-look the obvious and the basic.  There is no chemical resistance to 5 in 1 vaccinates (just effort resistance) and they are the most effective option for eliminating pulpy kidney - the major cause of sudden deaths.  It just needs to be DONE TWICE 4 WEEKS APART to be effective.

The look-a-like syndrome to pulpy kidney is red gut.  This occurs in lambs that are on a Lucerne of clover dominant pasture.  Red gut can be due to the low fibre content of high quality feed causing the rumen capacity to shrink.  Also the higher levels of protein fermented in the large bowel cause it to expand and prone to twisting.  Not usually occurring until the lambs have been on the feed for a month or more.  The disease process can be mitigated by:

  • Fibre (straw/hay) available - not always practical
  • Grazing on pasture 2/7 days
  • Mowing and wilting a few rounds of your Lucerne prior to grazing

Using 10 in 1 covexin vaccine has also been reported to be effect with stopping deaths on rocket fuel feed over and above 5 in 1.  Stepping up to covexin may also be of benefit when grazing sheep on fodder beet.  The high sugar content making animals more prone to clostridial growth.

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Heat Stress in Working Dogs

Working dogs are at risk of overheating. The physical demands of the job in combination with hot summer weather can lead to heat stroke, which is a life threatening condition. The signs are excessive panting, trying to seek shade, drooling and collapsing.

'Heat stroke is an emergency and most animals that get hyperthermia need to be seen by a vet to help reduce their core temperature back to normal.'

When a dog’s core temperature begins to rise blood supply to the skin increases, but the blood supply reduces to vital internal organs such as the kidneys – potentially causing lifelong damage.

Things you can do to reduce the chances of heatstroke in your dog:

  • Try to keep dogs in the shade during the hottest part of the day
  • Try to do the bulk of mustering/work first thing in the morning
  • Ensure dogs have lots of access to cool, clean drinking water
  • Clip long-haired dogs during summer to help with heat control

If you notice a dog is too hot - hose the dog down, put them in a trough or cover them in wet, cool towels. Then contact your vet for further advice.

 

Animal Health Considerations this Spring

The key to maximising lamb growth rates to weaning is maintaining high quality, high protein pastures with a legume dominance. This is rare period where lambs have the potential to achieve up to 400g/day growth. Prioritising twinning mobs and 2 tooth’s/lambing hoggets to the best paddocks will not only assist with maximising lamb growth, it will also ensure these younger growing ewes can continue to develop frame and put on condition after peak lactation.

Internal parasite control:

Pre-weaning tape drenching of lambs is a worthwhile exercise to maximise growth to weaning especially as nematodirus or tape worms are present.

Feet soundness:

If you see limping lambs you are seeing lost potential growth rate and reduction in weaning weights. Yes, many do self-cure, but if there is footrot in the ewes, this lamb lameness will linger for longer. Troughing will help, especially in the early stages. Tailing is a good opportunity to have a dedicated lamb foot checker. Blue spraying (Tetravet aerosol) infected feet is a really good way to get on top of lamb lameness. There are non-antibiotic aerosol options also for those on antibiotic free contracts.

Copper, B12 and Selenium to yearling and breeding cattle:

In growthy springs, there can be a requirement to supplement cattle with extra B12 and Selenium to ensure they optimise the spring conditions. A boost of copper can also be warranted for growth cattle (although ideally, they should have had this during the winter)

Multi-min (Se, Cu, Zinc and Manganese) is popular for breeding cattle/heifers. There is some data to show it has additional benefits for conception rates/embryo survival. Otherwise Prolaject B12 2000+Se is a popular choice at the moment.

Working Dog Health - Twisted Stomach

Twisted stomach or Gastric Dilated Volvulus (GDV) in dogs is a reasonably common, rapid onset, emergency affecting large dogs.  Often the dog is found dead in its kennel in the morning, however if noticed and treated in time then the outcome is often good.  The key to success is the quick identification of the problem and getting into surgery.  Often a few hours make the difference between life and death.

The biggest risk factor of a GDV is dogs that have a direct relative having had one, which is due to the size and shape of the chest.  Large chested dogs, especially huntaways are most likely to experience a GDV.  Other risk factors for GDV include large meals/feeding every second day, drinking large amounts of water rapidly, dogs that eat rapidly and lean dogs.

Signs to look for - off food, vomiting or unproductive retching, tight/distended abdomen, whimpering and other signs of abdominal pain, pale gums, lethargy/collapse.

Treatment involves stabilising the dog, which is usually in shock, then proceeding to surgery, where the stomach is untwisted and stitched to the abdominal wall preventing it happening again.  The outcome of the surgery depends on the amount of time that the stomach has been twisted and the extent of damage to the stomach, in areas that have lost blood supply.  If corrected with the stomach tissue having good viability, the prognosis is good.

Prevention involves surgery (Gastropexy) to open the dog up and stitching the edge of the stomach to the abdominal wall, which lasts a lifetime.  Preventative surgery should be considered in all huntaways, especially in dogs with a direct relative having had a GDV and in valuable dogs.

Scabby Mouth

As tailing approaches so does the most practical opportunity to vaccinate against scabby mouth.  Outbreaks observed in the past 12 months confirm it is still present and extremely challenging and labour intensive to treat.

  • Scabby mouth infects animals through breaks in the skin resulting in raised red lesions and scabs.  Infections can occur anywhere on the body with the mouth, feet, udders and the poll of rams being very common.  Lamb infection results in significant effects on weight gains.
  • Lambs are most susceptible over their first summer so tailing is the most practical time to vaccinate.  Don't use the vaccine of farms that are free of the disease.
  • The best place to give the vaccination is the inside of the back leg unless fly treatments are being used, in which case the inside of the front leg should be used.
  • The vaccine is given by scratching the skin but don't scratch so firmly as to draw blood.  A blue dye is added to the vaccine so you can see where it has been applied.
  • Check the vaccination area of 20 lambs 7-10 days after vaccination to ensure that it has taken.  A take is a raised whitish line surrounded by an area of inflammation.
  • Keep the vaccine in a fridge until it is used and only take enough for the day.  During use keep it in a chilly bag and out of direct sunlight.
  • As scabby mouth can infect humans (orf) don't touch lesions or prick yourself with the vaccine.