March 2021 Newsletter

Published by Alistair on

Lambing seems to be progressing well, the recent dry spell of weather has certainly helped clear the sheds. We are frequently banging the drum about antibiotic resistance and using them responsibly; it is good to hear that many of those farms that we have spoken to about watery mouth prevention and in particular stopping the prophylactic use of antibiotics have seen no detrimental effects in stopping this treatment. 

Please be vigilant for signs of nematodirus in growing new season lambs as the temperature rises so does the risk especially when grazing pasture grazed by last year’s lambs. A white drench should be used; egg counts are not always a good indicator of nematodirus infection. 

If you run a bull with your cows or heifers, then you should consider having a bull ‘Breeding Soundness Examination’ (BSE). The BSE is completed on farm and the results are given straight away. The examination should be repeated annually, usually 1 -2 months before each breeding season. This will allow time to replace any unsuitable bulls before the season begins. It is much better to find out about any fertility issues at this stage, rather than when you PD your cows months later! The examination consists of several parts: 

  • Physical examination including body condition, eyes, feet, legs. 
  • Scrotal circumference – a larger scrotal circumference is correlated with higher fertility. 
  • Examination of the reproductive tract, including assessment of internal accessory glands. 
  • Use of electro-ejaculator to assess reproductive function. 
  • Collection of a semen sample, and examination under a microscope for quality. 
Calves in pen

The results will give an assessment of the bull’s fertility at the time of the examination. It cannot assess libido so passing the breeding soundness examination does not guarantee success. It is not valid for the life of the bull because many factors could affect future sperm production, so we advise repeating the test annually. We commonly see sub-fertile bulls that lead to a protracted calving period, this has a huge effect on weaning weights, disease and thus profitability. 

Checking suckler heifers before service is a useful tool to reduce calving difficulties and calf losses. A calculation based on each heifer’s weight, age and pelvic measurement will identify any high-risk animals that should not be served; but diverted to fattening instead. It is also an opportunity to find free-martins and heifers not at puberty. 

To bring us all some cheer, we are holding a T&S Hat photo competition. We have been steadily handing out hats that we originally purchased to hand out at last years shows! If you would like one then please ask and we will happily give you one. All we ask is for a photo that includes our hat, it can be serious or humorous as long as it has our hat in it! Photos may be used on social media. One lucky winner will be chosen to receive a £50 voucher for Alvis’ Farm Shop at Redhill. 

So please send us your photos either through social media or email to 

Categories: News