July 2021 Newsletter
We are pleased to have added Tracey Willshear to our Reception team. Tracey has formerly worked at Summer Lane on the small animal side but is looking forward to learning all about the farm side of veterinary reception work. I am sure she will learn who you all are shortly!
Vasectomising tups to produce teasers can be a very useful management tool, helping to ensure a compact lambing period. The sight, sound and smell of a male sheep causes a hormonal response in the ewes known as the ‘tup or ram effect’. These pheromones work to cause a silent heat in all ewes within 2-3 days, followed by a normal fertile heat 17 days later.
At least 6 weeks before introducing the teaser, make sure that the ewe flock is out of sight and smell of any rams or wethers. After this introduce the teaser to the ewes for a minimum 3 days, maximum 14 days. One fit teaser ram should be enough for 100-150 ewes. Then remove the teaser and introduce the fertile ram. Ewes and lambs can be separated into batches to aid management and planning for lambing timing. Providing the ewe flock were cycling at the time when the teaser was with them, they will lamb in a compacted lambing time. Usually, the compacted lambing will consist of two ‘peak’ periods 6-8 days apart. The Vasectomy surgery should be done well in advance of the breeding season to ensure wounds are healed and he is no longer fertile. A well grown lamb will work as a teaser, obviously he needs to be sexually mature and have good libedo.
Summer Mastitis is caused by three different bacteria; A.pyogenes, P.indolicus and S.dysgalactiae which act synergistically to cause disease. The insect which spreads the infection is mainly the sheep headfly (Hydrotea irritans). Both dairy and beef dry cows (including maiden heifers) are most at risk during the summer months (late June-mid September). Environmental factors play a big part in Summer Mastitis. The flies live in bushes and trees, and can only fly during mild, damp humid conditions and low wind speeds. Cases therefore tend to be associated with “problem fields” next to wooded areas and/or high hedges. Symptoms include swelling of the teat and infected quarter, frequent kicking as large numbers of flies gather around the udders causing irritation, more time lying and away from the group, stiffness in the back legs/reluctance to walk. This can progress to loss of appetite, high temperature, hollow in the gut, weight loss, in some cases the infected quarter will burst out, resulting is a foul discharge and odour; severe cases can be fatal. Treatment success will often depend on how advanced the condition is. A combination of injectable antibiotics, tubes and anti-inflammatories can be used. It is best for us to advise as treatment may vary depending on the severity of the mastitis. In all cases the affected quarter needs to be stripped out frequently. Prevention and Control involves keeping dry cows and heifers away from susceptible fields; fields that are open, dry and kept well topped will reduce the habitat where flies can thrive. Fly repellents as well as insecticides should be administered and used especially in high-risk herds. Remember that selective dry cow therapy with sealant only can leave cows susceptible to infection.