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April Farm Newsletter

Well, this week has been made very busy by having to treat several sheep and cattle suffering from blindness after looking at the solar eclipse! Other than that, we have had the usual seasonal madness of lambing and calving across the county, often at unsociable hours.

Turnout Worming of Cattle – John Macfarlane / Pam Brown

• Gutworm infection has an adverse effect on beef suckler productivity by profoundly depressing live weight gain and carcase quality.
• Dairy heifers take much longer to reach bulling weight and lifetime milk yield is substantially reduced.
• Growing cattle under 18 months old are most likely to be affected, particularly when grazing for their first season after weaning.
• Control strategies require either worming at intervals over the grazing season or using products with a persistent action at turnout.
• Wormer boluses have traditionally been the solution. Given at turnout, they control infection and so aid reduction of pasture contamination over the critical first 4-5 months.
• Since the launch of Cydectin 10% LA for Cattle in 2006, an injectable option has been available. It allows for closer adjustment of dose to match the calf's weight and so can be the most economical option

Products available for turnout use and season-long control are:
Cydectin 10% LA for Cattle – 0.5ml/50kg subcutaneously into the ear, 108 days meat w/d, 80 days milk w/d.
Panacur Bolus – calves of 100-300kg, 200 day meat w/d.
Autoworm First Grazer – 100-400kg, 8 month meat and milk w/d
Autoworm Finisher – 100-400kg, 6 month meat and milk w/d

NB – Delay using any of these medicines until 2 weeks after second Huskvac dose.
NB – All of these products require set stocked grazing to allow continuing efficacy, especially in the autumn.

The alternative is to use pour-on wormers (Dectomax, Cydectin or ivermectin-based e.g. Enovex) repeated as necessary but this is likely to mean bringing cattle in mid-summer during harvest. Different products have different regimes so make sure you check the directions.

Coccidiosis in Sheep—XLVets

Coccidiosis in Sheep—XLVets

Coccidiosis is one of the most economically important diseases of sheep; caused by an intracellular protozoa parasite primarily affecting the digestive system. The parasite is host specific and goats are affected by different strains to sheep, therefore the disease is not transmissible between these two species.

The parasite impairs absorption of nutrients and water. Clinical signs of diarrhoea (often dark, mucoid or blood tinged), dehydration, weight loss and anorexia lead to ill thrifty lambs and fatalities.

Disease is seen primarily in 3-8 week old lambs but also in lambs up to 6 months of age. Ewes can act as a primary source of the infection but most infection is due to contamination of the ground from older lambs. Lambs are usually protected in the first few weeks of life by colostral antibodies and they then develop a solid immunity. The period between infection of an animal with an oocyst and them shedding oocysts themselves is 2-3 weeks; the oocysts are environmentally resistant. Early born lambs often contribute significantly (although often not clinically affected themselves) to environmental contamination and are an important source of infective oocysts to those lambs born later.

Clinical disease can be preceded by a stressful event such as adverse weather, weaning or sudden dietary change, and is more common in highly stocked fields.

Diagnosis of coccidiosis is most commonly based upon history (age of lambs and intensive rearing system) and clinical sings. Misdiagnosis is common through identification of high faecal Eimeria oocyst counts alone, where there may be non-pathogenic strains present. Pathogenic species can be identified in specialist laboratories. Treatment should not be based on oocyst counts alone.

Once disease has been diagnosed, treatment is disease-limiting rather than preventing. Treatment should be administered as soon as several lambs are displaying clinical signs, if treatment is withheld until a large percentage of lambs are ill thrifty, production parameters can be affected for months. Treatment of acute outbreaks is usually through whole flock drug treatment. In highly valuable animals fluid therapy may be considered to replace fluid losses.

A coccidiostat called decoquinate (Deccox) can be included into creep feed to help prevent the disease but this can lead to a lack of immunity and problems when the drug is withdrawn. However, in the face of an impending outbreak drugs such as diclazuril (Vecoxan) and toltrazuril (Baycox, our preferred product) can be given orally to lambs to prevent the disease manifesting, by decreasing oocyst output.

Prevention should primarily be aimed at reducing environmental build up – consider hygiene, stocking density, nutrition. It's a good idea to keep early and late born lambs in two separate groups, to stop infection spreading from the early group. Alternatively for lambs at pasture, frequent rotation will limit the burden of parasites. On those farms where coccidiosis is a problem every year, or in pet lambs, Baycox can be used preventatively at any age. Drug resistance is unlikely to occur because such a small percentage of cocci are found within the animal, most is in the environment.

New Countryside Productivity Grants

A new round of grants have just been released offering significant funding towards new handling systems, EID tools etc. Many of our farmers benefitted from these last year.

As before, applications will need to be supported by a veterinary letter and SAC (01668 283363) can help you with your application. See website above for details.

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