HFV News AUGUST 2023

In this issue…

"She's wired" - what does that diagnosis mean?

Summer Mastitis: keep a close eye on your in-calf heifers and your dry cows

Veterinary Declaration Certificate for animals going to slaughter - Dec 2023

Beware: a spike in E coli and Lungworm cases

Some notes from Paula at the National Youngstock Conference

Uniform-Agri User Meeting Wednesday 30th August

Newport Show - thanks for stopping by!

"She's wired" - what does that diagnosis mean?

Most farmers will have had a sick cow that we diagnose with a "wire" and some will have had outbreaks where lots of cows are affected in a short space of time.

What is a "wired" cow?

Any metal that gets into a feeder wagon with knives and blended into the diet of a cow is a disaster waiting to happen. The cow is an expert sorter - but fragments of metal in a big mouthful of food can mean small, sharp bits of metal get into her guts and drop into the cows first stomach, the reticulum. When this stomach contracts with the rumen it juts up against the diaphragm and can push the metal directly into the sack around the heart, or into the chest and lungs, up into the liver or spleen, or can cause abscesses and peritonitis around the reticulum itself.

What does a "wired cow" look like?

  • Grumbling temperature
  • No rumen movement or cudding
  • No appetite
  • Milk drop
  • Hunched back
  • Elbows held out

The Glutavac Test:

You may have seen us using these cow side test kits on farm - we're testing for the concentration of Fibrinogen which is an inflammatory protein that is raised in 75-80% of wired cows. The faster the blood clots, the more fibrinogen there is and the more likely it is she is "wired".

Where does the metal come from?

Typically, the metal that used to cause the damage in a "wired" cow was from old disintegrating tyres used on the silage pit - one of these in a feeder wagon could do a lot of damage, but metal can get into a cow in lots of different ways:

  • From the silage ground - especially if you've had fencing work done
  • From old tyres on or around the pit
  • From exposed steelwork in old concrete at the base of the pit
  • From the liner of the feeder wagon itself if it is corroded
  • From tyres being used to push up feed and getting worn out underneath
  • Bristles from brushes - these will get past any magnet and are stiff enough to do the same damage in a cow
Check the condition of any tyres used to push silage up with

Here are some examples found on farm:

Metal from an old liner of a feeder wagon

What can you do to prevent a "wired" cow?

  • magnets on choppers or forage wagons are a must
  • magnets on feeders wagons are essential and should be checked every few days - you may be surprised what you find on yours!
  • ideally use side walls or weighted sheets on clamps
  • if you are using tyres, go through them every year and make sure any old tyres are removed well away from the clamp/feeding area
  • put a magnet inside the reticulum of the cow - some farms will magnet the whole milking herd and then every heifer as she comes up to calving

Summer Mastitis: keep a close eye on your in-calf heifers and your dry cows

Summer mastitis or "August bag" is a contagious mastitis that needs the combination of flies, warm & wet weather conditions and dry cows and heifers at grass - so for our summer calving cows we're having a high risk year!

Affected animals tend to hang back, there's an obvious swollen quarter with flies gathered around, they can seem lame or walk stiffly - you need to act fast to save the other quarters and the cow.


Treatment is usually aimed at saving the cow, the quarter will usually be beyond saving unless you've caught it very early.

  1. Injectable antibiotics
  2. Anti-inflammatories
  3. Strip out the quarter (into a bucket then down the drain - flies spread this!)
  4. Mastitis tubes
  5. Fly treatment

Veterinary Declaration Rules for all animals going to slaughter -from December 2023

You may have seen that the rules are changing for non-farm assured animals going to slaughter after 13th December 2023 - any animal going to slaughter (direct, or via a market) will need a Veterinary Declaration Form rather than the current farmer declaration.

This is to comply with EU export regulations - some parts of that animal may be exported to the EU and so this Veterinary Declaration Form makes sure you've had a visit from a vet who has seen all the stock and reviewed the infectious disease and welfare in the last twelve months.

You won't need this Veterinary Declaration if you are Red Tractor farm assured, or if you've had your Animal Health & Welfare Review visit.

Beware: a spike in E coli and Lungworm cases

We've seen a lot of toxic E coli cases in the last month - on all systems and at all stages of lactation.

E coli can cause a really severe mastitis - cows can go toxic before you get a watery quarter so please keep it in mind if you have a cow that is off colour, has no milk, no appetite and is late in for milking.

Treating E coli cases successfully depends on speed; anti-inflammatories and fluids give you the best outcome of saving the cow. We tend to be aggressive with fluids - an intravenous drip and 40 litres of oral fluids can be the difference between a cow recovering, or not.

A pure culture of E coli in the top third of the plate

APHA warning: Lungworm

We've had a notification through from APHA warning about high numbers of Lungworm cases in June and July. The hot dry spring reduced lungworm burdens on pastures and meant cows didn't get their natural immunity boost earlier in the year - now we've gone into warm and wet conditions,numbers of lungworm have exploded and cattle are coming under pressure.

Lungworm should be considered if you've got any age of cattle coughing out at grass.

Adult lungworm in the airways

Some notes from Paula at the National Youngstock Conference

We had an interesting day at the National Youngstock Conference with some of our clients - here's a few take home messages...

1. If in doubt, mimic nature. Colostrum, whole milk, teats and the gut of a calf have been under development for thousands of years.

There are lots of different options, ideas and products when it comes to feeding calves - and most of them are recommending opposite things. There were speakers advocating for milk powder and some talking about the benefits of whole milk feeding. There were speakers wanting you to feed 8-12 litres of their milk powder a day and there were speakers wanting you to restrict milk feeding to get maximum concentrate feed into calves before weaning. What everyone agreed on was getting the right feeding system in place for your farm - and that is something that can take some trial and error.

Just don't underfeed calves. They need at least 6litres of milk replacer a day - and fresh highly palatable ad-lib calf starter and clean water from the start.

Did you know? How much you feed calves and how well they grow before weaning affects their genetic potential - increasing growth rates before weaning increases both 1st lactation milk yield and milk solids. This is known as "epigenetic programming" - there's a lot of research going on in this area at the minute.

We can maximise growth rates with feeding high volumes of milk in the first month or so - but we do need to successfully wean them too - early high volumes need to be gradually reduced for a month before weaning so they're eating at least 2kg concentrate per calf per day.

2. Colostrum isn't just about getting antibodies into the calf - it's an incredible food stuff that has huge value beyond the first day.

The first colostrum feed is essential for borrowing immunity from the mum and getting it into the bloodstream of the calf - this borrowed immunity protects the calf in early life whilst its own immune system is developing. But feeding colostrum beyond day 1 has huge advantages. The antibodies not only get through into the bloodstream but they also "stick" to the gut lining, stopping scour bugs attaching for the first week or so. Continuing to feed colostrum in the first week tops up this gut protection and reduces the risk of scour beyond that first week.

As well as having high levels of antibodies, milk from freshly calved cows also has high levels of fat, hormones, pre-biotics, anti-inflammatories, natural antibiotics and key vitamins/minerals for the first week after calving. These are almost impossible to mimic in a milk replacer.

Each day "sick" as a calf means 127 litres less milk as a first calved heifer

3. Providing a great environment for a calf will do more good than any product you can buy. They need space, light, fresh air, a clean dry bed and a belly full of milk.

If you are looking to update your calf shed, there will be some grant funding available and applications for this will open later this summer. Have a look at the link below for more information:

4. Be critical about "studies" and "research" - if we are going to base decisions on research then we need good quality studies. This means:

  • we need large groups of animals to test
  • we need a matched control group to compare them to
  • we need to think if the researchers were biased and if this could have affected the results
  • we need to think did the researchers have a commercial interest in the results being one way or the other
  • we need to know if the research was published in a peer reviewed scientific journal, or was it just in a sales brochure...

5. Make time to engage with your vet about calf health.

The average calf mortality figures in the UK vary widely from 0% through to >30% in the first 6 weeks of life, with the average being around 6%. There's a huge variation between farms here - what about on your farm?

Uniform-Agri Meeting: Wednesday 30th August

"Getting the most out of your Uniform software"

10.30 for 11am start at IEC Solutions TF9 2PG - bring your laptop, iPad or phone with your Uniform data uploaded
Cath from NMR will run a practical workshop using your data - this is for new and experienced users

Make sure you confirm numbers to Paula by 18th August on 07764 747855

Newport Show 2023 - thank you for stopping by!

We had a great time catching up with everyone at the Newport Show - thanks for your support and we'll see you there next year!

The winner of the colouring competition - well done Noah Palmer!


Paula: 07764 747855 paula@haywoodfarmvets.com

Tom: 07837 291097 tom@haywoodfarmvets.com

Amy: 07989 304202 amy@haywoodfarmvets.com

Enquiries: mail@haywoodfarmvets.com

Website: haywoodfarmvets.com

Open hours: M-F 08:30 - 16:00

Out of Hours: 01630 810016

Created By
Paula Scales