November 2021 Newsletter
I think many of us will be keeping an eye on the COP 26 Summit in Glasgow; the after effects could have a dramatic effect on livestock production for a long time to come. If I step back from the chaos I often think we are caught between a drive for efficiency, targeted growth rates to reduce days to slaughter or days to 1st calving and another lobby for environmental stewardship and conservation. Can we as farmers marry up the two while feeding the nation? I believe this will be the real challenge especially if food prices have to be kept low to supress inflation!
We are pleased to announce an addition to the team. Harvey Horsnett-Bowley has taken up the role of Approved Tuberculin Tester. This will give us extra capacity with TB testing following the change to 6 -month TB testing. I am sure you will all make him very welcome. Harvey has been involved with farming and agriculture for many years as well as having his own smallholding, working on local farms; he studied Agriculture at Hartpury College.
The Medicine courses we ran last week were well received. We are running the next Beef & Sheep one on the 17th November, starting at 11am. Some of you have already registered but if there is anyone else who would like to come along then please let us know. This is now a requirement of Red Tractor Assurance. There is a charge of £25 per place.
We are pleased to be holding a meeting in conjunction with Crediton Milling on the 25th November; “Know your cow inside out!” This is primarily exploring the effects of Dairy cow nutrition on the health of the gut. It will be held at Church Farm, Stanton Prior by kind permission of Alistair Hardwick starting at 10.30 for 11am. Please call the office to register a place.
Liver fluke can be a challenge diagnostically, unfortunately no test on it’s own will give us all the information we need at all times of year, so we need to use a combination of different tests and information from other sources. When we need to first treat for acute fluke in sheep, animals sampled will show no eggs on a faecal egg count because fluke need to be at least 10 weeks old to lay eggs; it is therefore, unhelpful to look at the muck. Antibody testing of lambs in the Autumn can be a useful tool to tell us about fluke exposure on farm when treatment is otherwise little better than guesswork. Cattle and sheep develop antibodies to liver fluke within a few weeks of being infected for the first time. Although these antibodies give no protection to the animal, we can use them to show that an animal has been infected. This is the test that will detect liver fluke earliest after infection, but as the antibodies last for months, they will still be present after successful treatment. It is therefore best reserved for new-season lambs as they can only have developed antibodies to fluke infection in the current year. A positive result in older animals is fairly meaningless due to previous exposure. The antibody test can detect antibodies from just 2 weeks after fluke infection, at the early immature stage. It is best used at the beginning of the fluke season to detect when the infectious stages (metacercaria) are starting to appear, and therefore, the risk of infection for cattle and sheep is starting. The test may need to be repeated as time progresses until a positive is seen. Once they test positive for fluke antibodies, there is a risk to all animals grazing those areas and treatment can be commenced. The results will not tell us how many liver fluke are there, only that the animal has met a fluke. If you need help with Fluke control please feel free to contact us for a chat.