Vets diary: Cows and calves fat with summer grass

I have never seen cows as fat as they are this autumn. An abundance of grass throughout the summer has resulted in both cows and calves being heavier, writes Charlotte Miller.

By Charlotte Miller
Thursday, 17th October 2019, 7:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th October 2019, 7:00 pm
A cow and two calves.
A cow and two calves.

The only downside for a vet is that it makes pregnancy diagnosis more difficult, but even then there is an upside as more cows are in calf and this is good news for our clients.

As usual in farming, the good news tends to be balanced with the bad, so at present the good includes the abundance of autumn and winter feed, cereal prices are low so extra supplements, if needed, should be cheaper.

Calves are looking good and are at heavier weights for the sales. Cows are carrying more condition so should require less feed this winter. Breeding sheep prices have been remarkably good.

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The bad includes prices for other stock is low, with finished cattle prices being very poor compared to last year. This is transferring down the chain and reducing store prices too. There is still a huge uncertainty over the future.

Some autumn calving herds are having serious calving problems with fat cows and very large calves. The large calves have meant we are doing more caesareans with even some of the supposedly easy calving breeds are having problems.

As well as calvings and pregnancy diagnosis, the last couple of months have been filled with examining rams for fertility. They need to be in top condition, fit but not fat, with good teeth, toes and testicles to be best prepared for their work ahead.

We have also been screening some flocks for a viral tumour of the lungs, Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma (OPA). Vets, Issa, Anna and Daisy have become very quick at scanning sheep lungs for signs of the tumour.

Any with signs can be sold reducing the impact the disease has on the flock. If you think you have a problem get in touch with Issa to discuss the issue.

Hopefully most of the breeding ewes are now in good condition and ready for the tup, having been vaccinated against abortion and given fluke, worm and mineral treatment if necessary. Sheeps feet have been more of a problem this year then last, due to the longer and wetter grass, so any lame ewes should be separated and treated and the use of Footvax should be considered.

On the cattle side we are coming up to winter housing so plan your pneumonia vaccinations for calves plus what you are going to give regarding fluke and worm treatment. As usual, Alnorthumbria aims to be extremely competitive on prices for preventative medicines such as cattle and sheep vaccines, wormers and flukicides.

We have a couple of client meetings coming up – We are running a Young Farm Workers Evening on Tuesday, October 29, at 6.30pm for 7pm at The Percy Arms, Chatton. Topics covered – FarmMatters Management Software and Hygiene & Biosecurity and the evening is kindly sponsored by Vilofoss. Food is provided. If you are interested in attending please email Max – [email protected] or contact your local branch.

Our second meeting is on Monday, November 11, at The Anglers Arms Hotel, Weldon Bridge at 7pm for 7.30pm. Topics covered – Vimco Sheep Mastitis Vaccine, Artificial Insemination in Sheep & Cattle and Johne’s in Sheep and the evening is kindly sponsored by Hipra. Refreshments will be available. If you are interested in attending please contact your local branch. Both meetings are free of any charges.

By Charlotte Miller.