HYGIENE AT DRYING OFF
We often think of mastitis as being a risk when a cow is milking, but the dry period can be a risk too - both immediately after dry off, and around calving.
We have had a some cases of severe mastitis after dry off on a few farms recently - so here's a bit of a reminder to everyone about the importance of hygiene and protocols at dry off.
Below is a video from AHDB with vet James Breen showing how to safely administer sealants and antibiotic tubes at dry off:
- Ideally cows need to be giving less than 15 litres at dry off
- Don't do any other jobs with the cow on dry off day e.g foot trimming
- Tricky to get hygiene right if you are drying cows off during milking - best to separate them out and dry them off as a separate event once the parlour has been washed down
- Always wear a clean set of gloves, and keep them clean - the last cow needs the same level of hygiene as the first cow!
- Make sure all cows getting dry cow antibiotic are clearly marked as treated, ideally in two ways in case a tail tape falls off
- Always use a pre-dip and give it at least 30 seconds contact time then dry wipe this off before you start
- Always use surgical spirit and separate cotton wool swabs to clean each teat and then flip the cotton wool over and concentrate on the end of the teat
- Always clean "front to back" so front teats then back teats
- If you're using antibiotic dry cow tubes, always tube "back to front" so back teats first then front teats
- If there has been any muck contamination of the teats, get more cotton wool soaked in surgical spirit and clean front teats then back teats again before using your sealant
- Always seal "back to front" so back teats first then front teats
- Remember when you're using sealant to pinch the teat at the top so you're filling the teat and the sealant isn't leaking up into the udder
- With ALL tubes, make sure you only "partially insert" the tube - this causes least damage to the muscles at the teat end
- Never put any tubes in warm water - regardless of how cold a day it is!
- Once the sealant is in, dip all teats with a post-dip making sure the whole teat is covered
- Let the cows stand for at least 30 mins on clean concrete
- Keep a close eye on cows for the first few days after dry off
ANIMAL HEALTH & WELFARE REVIEW: Are you signed up?
What is the Review?
"The Annual Health and Welfare Review is a government funded annual visit from your chosen vet or team of vets.
It can be undertaken whenever it works for you. It will allow you and your vet to concentrate on your animals’ specific health and welfare priorities.
During the visit, your vet will provide you with bespoke advice. They’ll also carry out some diagnostic testing around endemic diseases — these were agreed by the farmers and vets who helped to design the Pathway."
To be eligible you need:
- 11 or more beef or dairy cattle
- 21 or more sheep
- have an SBI number linked to a CPH
- be in England
- be eligible for BPS
The amount of funding will depend on the type of enterprise you run:
- Beef: £522
- Dairy: £372
- Sheep: £436
What the funding covers:
- Annual vet visit and review of health, welfare and medicines
- Testing must include BVD for cattle farms and effectiveness of worm treatments for sheep farms
- Written report, agreed action points + test results
How to sign up:
There's a short form to fill in to register, you'll need your CPH and SBI number to hand. Once you've registered and been checked that you're eligible, you'll receive an email with an Agreement number - this is the number you will need to make your claim and we've then got 6 months to get you booked in for your visit.
Get ahead of the flies in 2023
Spring is now on it’s way, and it is time to start thinking about fly control for the coming summer months.
All livestock farmers will be familiar with the traditional methods of controlling flies - pour-on treatments, fly sprays in the parlour and so on. But there is a natural alternative that can help to reduce total fly numbers without the need to depend so much on chemical insecticides.
BIOLOGICAL FLY CONTROL:
Biological fly control is used commonly on pig and poultry units, but is relatively new to the cattle industry. This method makes use of natural mini-wasps to reduce the adult breeding population and therefore reduce the total numbers of flies present on a farm throughout the year.
How does it work?
Mini-wasp eggs are delivered to your farm every 2 weeks through the fly breeding season and we distribute them into fly breeding hot spots. The mini-wasp eggs hatch over the next few days and go on the hunt for developing fly eggs. The tiny wasp burrows into the fly egg, eats the developing fly and lays her own egg in there. This means instead of a fly, you get a new mini-wasp hatching and increasing numbers of mini-wasps on farm; each female kills 100 fly eggs in her lifetime.
The parasitic wasps that we use only target nuisance flies (head, horn, stable etc) and will never target beneficial species such as Honey Bees. The species that are released do exist naturally in the UK but are not present in large enough numbers to have an impact on the large fly populations that exist around livestock units.
Starting to release the parasites right at the beginning of the fly breeding season (mid to late April depending on the weather) will allow them to have the maximum impact on the overall fly population, with regular top-ups throughout the season keeping on top of the problem. Putting the brakes on the nuisance fly population allows reduced use of insecticide products over time and can help to reduce antimicrobial usage by making diseases such as summer mastitis less likely.
Get in touch if you want any more information on how these parasitic wasps could fit into your fly strategy for 2023.