Summer

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Calf Leptospirosis Vaccinations

Calf leptospirosis vaccinations typically happen throughout late Spring and early Summer. Calves should start vaccinations at 8 weeks of age (although can be started as young as 4 weeks) and require two doses, 4-6 weeks apart.

Most herds have their annual booster vaccination in the Autumn and R2 heifers are done at the same time. Animals should not go longer than 12 months between vaccinations, so R1 heifers require a booster vaccination at this time so that they are in line with the herd/R2 heifers as well.

Calf Drench Programmes

Once calves are weaned, serious consideration needs to be given to an effective worming programme. Drenching intervals are usually between 4-8 weeks and heifers should remain on a drenching programme until they are at least 15 months of age.

Oral drench products are more effective than pour-on and injectable products, so we recommend using an oral drench product for as long as it is safe and practical to do so.

Cooperia are the dominant worm species in Summer/Autumn and have widespread resistance to some drench families. For this reason, we recommend using a combination product that contains levamisole at this time of year. Remember to dose according to weight as under-dosing can result in ineffective drenching and aid the development of resistance.

Facial Eczema

Facial eczema becomes a risk when grass temperatures are consistently above 12◦C. Typically, this falls in December/January through to the Autumn.

Pasture spraying can be highly effective and reduce the production losses that can be associated with prolonged use of high levels of zinc, however spraying must occur BEFORE spore levels rise. If your management strategy involves supplementation of zinc, you should start your programme once spore counts for your area/farm hit 30,000.

When farm spore counts are consistently at 10,000 or less for three weeks and this is accompanied by cooler temperatures, you can stop your management programme.

Pasture samples (at least 60g) can be dropped into our Te Awamutu Clinic and results will be phoned to you within the day.

Pregnancy Scanning

Pregnancy diagnosis provides invaluable information for culling decisions and planning prior to next season’s calving.

Dating pregnancies is most accurate when scanning is performed on cows that are between 6-12 weeks pregnant. For most farms, scanning your herd 6 weeks after mating has finished will ensure most cows fit within this time frame.

Scanning can also be performed part-way through mating in cases where early pregnancy diagnosis is required. We can reliably confirm if a cow is pregnant or empty from 35 days.

Autumn

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Herd Pregnancy Scanning

Scanning has largely been completed during the summer months but if you haven’t had your herd scanned yet then it’s not too late. Accurate knowledge of your herd’s pregnancy status is an important tool when making decisions regarding drying off, culling, feed budgeting and aiding in preparation for the following season.

Facial Eczema

Please make sure that your stock are protected if spore counts remain high into the autumn. When farm spore counts are consistently at 10,000 or less for 3 weeks and this is accompanied by cooler temperatures, you can stop your management programme. Start again if the weather becomes suitable for facial eczema.

Remember that overdosing zinc can also cause a toxicity. Check with our vets as the season continues to avoid this.

RVM Consults

Autumn is usually the time for your annual Restricted Veterinary Medicine (RVM) consultation.

During these consultations, we can help you identify areas where there may be room for improvement. Common topics that are covered include (but are not limited to)

- Selection of antibiotic dry cow therapy for the herd

- Animal health planning

- Aspects of feeding (budgeting, mineral supplementation)

- Management of common diseases

- Changes to regulations for common farm practices (e.g. disbudding calves)

- Review and update the allocation of restricted veterinary medicines

We have a flexible format so we can put more emphasis on discussing the issues that are important to individual farms. If you would like to discuss your RVM consult, please phone us at your convenience.

Bulk Cell Counts

With reducing milk volumes there can be an increase in the bulk milk somatic cell count. Although a small rise is normal, if it is too great it can result in grades and reduced management options such as forced dry off of high cell count cows.

It can be very useful to identify individual cows that have higher somatic cell counts and are pushing the bulk count up. Herd testing and/or rapid mastitis testing (RMT) are examples of ways to do this.

Drying Off

Drying off is a critical part of the lactation cycle. Making informed decisions regarding antibiotic drycow therapy and teat sealants and ensuring that these procedures are performed properly will have a significant impact on the start of your next season.

Mineral checks

Different classes of stock usually have different diets as well as different requirements for both macrominerals (such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus) and microminerals/trace elements(such as copper, selenium, cobalt and iodine).

Winter is usually the period of highest demand for copper, so Autumn is a good time to assess the status of your animals and supplement where necessary. Copper reserves are stored in the liver, which is why taking liver samples is far superior to blood sampling. Ideally, liver biopsies are performed on live, healthy animals, but the livers of cull cows at the works can also be used.

Leptospirosis Vaccinations

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans. It can cause multiple problems within the herd (e.g. abortions) as well as causing severe illness in people. Vaccinating all classes of stock will reduce the shedding of the bacteria, minimising the spread between animals and people. Autumn/early winter is usually the best time to give your stock an annual booster vaccination.

A high-risk period for the spread of leptospirosis is during the wet, winter months. For this reason, Autumn is an excellent time of year to boost your herd’s immunity with their annual leptospirosis vaccination.

Furthermore, if your calves have not had their initial vaccinations for leptospirosis yet, these should be completed now so that they are synchronised with the herd.

Nitrate Toxicity

Unfortunately, we see deaths in cattle from this almost every year.

High risk paddocks include rapidly growing (i.e. annual) ryegrasses in their first few grazings; also paddocks that have had application of urea or effluent. It is important to realize, however, that any plants that are rapidly growing can be very high in nitrate when sunlight levels are low – therefore warm, overcast days are when most nitrate outbreaks occur. Nitrate testing before feeding stock is highly recommended, low cost and can prevent huge losses.

Signs of nitrate poisoning include difficulty breathing, bloat, staggering, convulsions and death. Mucous membranes (i.e. inside the vulva) appear a muddy brown colour. If you see any of these signs, call us IMMEDIATELY, and slowly move the animals off the feed.

Pre-calving Scour Vaccinations

Calf scours is an incredibly time consuming, demoralising, and costly issue. Vaccination of cows from 3 weeks prior to the start of calving can be a valuable tool in preventing or reducing the severity of the problem. Please talk us to see if this could be right for you.

There are a number of different vaccination products available. As the timing of the injections varies with product, make sure you talk to us at least 8 weeks prior to the start of calving so there is enough time to organise two doses if needed.

Heifer Teat Sealing

Teat sealing heifers can dramatically reduce the clinical mastitis associated with calving and we have a great team to help you get this important job done.

Ideally, teat sealant should be applied 4-6 weeks prior to the start of calving (before heifers are fully bagged up and teat canals begin to open). For some farms, this is impractical as heifers do not return home until close to calving. However, positive results have been seen even when teat sealant is applied as close as 1 week before calving.

If we are coming to assist you with teat sealing, please click here to read important information regarding the process.

Winter

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Leptospirosis Herd Vaccinations

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans. It can cause multiple problems within the herd (e.g. abortions) as well as causing severe illness in people. Vaccinating all classes of stock will reduce the shedding of the bacteria, minimising the spread between animals and people. Autumn/early winter is usually the best time to give your stock an annual booster vaccination.

A high-risk period for the spread of leptospirosis is during the wet, winter months. If your herd hasn’t had its annual booster dose during the Autumn, it should be completed as soon as possible.

Furthermore, if your calves have not had their initial vaccinations for leptospirosis yet, these should be completed as soon as possible.

Heifer Teat Sealing

Teat sealing heifers can dramatically reduce the clinical mastitis associated with calving and we have a great team to help you get this important job done.

Ideally, teat sealant should be applied 4-6 weeks prior to the start of calving (before heifers are fully bagged up and teat canals begin to open). For some farms, this is impractical as heifers do not return home until close to calving. However, positive results have been seen even when teat sealant is applied as close as 1 week before calving.

If we are coming to assist you with teat sealing, please click here to read important information regarding the process.

Pre-calving Scour Vaccinations

Calf scours is an incredibly time-consuming, demoralizing, and costly issue. Vaccination of cows from 3 weeks prior to the start of calving can be a valuable tool in preventing or reducing the severity of the problem – please talk us to see if this could be right for you.

There are a number of different vaccination products available. As the timing of the injections varies with product, make sure you talk to us at least 8 weeks prior to the start of calving so there is enough time to organise two doses if needed.

Preparation for Calving

Calving is a very hectic time and being prepared with all the necessary equipment and products can help reduce your stress and improve the outcomes for your stock.

Click here for a printable dairy spring checklist. We also have hard copies available in clinic for you.

Click here for a printable neonatal calf-rearing checklist. We also have hard copies available in clinic for you.

Transition Feeding

The six to eight week period around calving that encompasses late pregnancy and early lactation is often referred to as the Transition Period, as the cow transitions from a state of pregnancy and positive energy balance to a lactating state in negative energy balance. There can be little doubt about the importance of this period for the dairy cow: failure to transition successfully can result in metabolic diseases, reduced dry matter intake, poor milk production, poor reproduction, and an increased incidence of infectious diseases.

There are many recommendations about how best to manage and feed the cow through this period and it is best that you discuss any questions or concerns you have with one of our vets.

Downer Cows, Calving Trouble and Disease at Calving Time

Calving difficulties, down cows and disease are time-consuming, costly and lower the morale of everyone involved. If you are exceeding the trigger levels below, it would be best to discuss your situation with one of our vets as it is likely that there is an underlying problem.

- More than five percent of the herd require hands-on assistance to calve

- More than two percent of the herd have retained foetal membranes 24 hours after calving

- More than five percent of cows become lame in a month

- More than five percent of the herd have clinical mastitis in the month after calving

- More than five percent of the herd suffer any other health problems at calving or during early lactation

Spring Mastitis

Environmental bacteria such as Strep. uberis are the most likely cause of mastitis in Spring. Most infections tend to occur around drying off and calving, so it is critical to do your best in terms of providing a clean environment at these times.

Maintenance of your races (especially the 100m closest to the shed) and regularly cleaning your feed pad (if you have one) will help reduce your environmental risk. Teat spraying and management of open teat canals (e.g. teat sealing heifers) are also important preventative measures.

Calf Rearing

Successfully rearing of neonatal calves requires an organised approach. There are many recommendations around facilities, hygiene and feeding. Please click here for a printable neonatal calf rearing checklist.

Despite a gold-standard approach, a low level of disease among your calves is within normal limits and sometimes unavoidable. The following table can help you gauge whether there is room for improvement with your calf rearing:

Spring

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Downer Cows, Calving Trouble and Disease at Calving Time

Calving difficulties, down cows and disease are time-consuming, costly and lower the morale of everyone involved. If you are exceeding the trigger levels below, it would be best to discuss your situation with one of our vets as it is likely that there is an underlying problem.

- More than five percent of the herd require hands-on assistance to calve

-More than two percent of the herd have retained foetal membranes 24 hours after calving

- More than five percent of cows become lame in a month

- More than five percent of the herd have clinical mastitis in the month after calving

- More than five percent of the herd suffer any other health problems at calving or during early lactation

Spring Mastitis

Environmental bacteria such as Strep. Uberis are the most likely cause of mastitis in Spring. Most infections tend to occur around drying off and calving, so it is critical to do your best in terms of providing a clean environment at these times.

Maintenance of your races (especially the 100m closest to the shed) and regularly cleaning your feed pad (if you have one) will help reduce your environmental risk. Teat spraying and management of open teat canals (e.g. teat sealing heifers) are also important preventative measures.

Calf Rearing

Successfully rearing of neonatal calves requires an organised approach. There are many recommendations around facilities, hygiene and feeding. Please click here for a printable neonatal calf rearing checklist.

Despite a gold-standard approach, a low level of disease among your calves is within normal limits and sometimes unavoidable. The following table can help you gauge whether there is room for improvement with your calf rearing:

Disbudding/Dehorning

At V.E. Vets we provide a PREMIUM disbudding service that ensures calves experience minimal pain and stress and therefore cope and perform much better:

- All calves are sedated to minimise stress

- All calves are given local anaesthetic before horn buds are removed with cautery

- If requested, we provide long acting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relief and/or we can vaccinate your calves (e.g. clostridial vaccination)

- We always have a vet present, so can help you identify and treat infected navels and ear tags, as well as remove extra teats

Ideally, calves will be 4-6 (2-8) weeks of age when performing this procedure. If you do not have a power source near the calves, we can bring a generator at no extra cost.

Calf Leptospirosis Vaccinations

Calf leptospirosis vaccinations typically happen throughout late Spring and early Summer. Calves should start vaccinations at 8 weeks of age (although can be started as young as 4 weeks) and require two doses, 4-6 weeks apart.

Most herds have their annual booster vaccination in the Autumn and R2 heifers are done at the same time. Note that animals should not go longer than 12 months between vaccinations, so R1 heifers require a booster vaccination at this time so that they are in line with the herd/R2 heifers as well.

Calf Weaning

Hopefully, all calves will have had access to high quality meal and hay since 1-2 weeks of age. Good intakes of fibre and meal will help rumen development, allowing a smoother transition at weaning.

A general recommendation is to wean calves based on their liveweight. The following table is a guideline.

Remember that weaning is a stressful event for calves, so ensure the feed intended for calves is high quality. Avoid doing other things such as vaccinations on the same day. If weather is particularly poor, it may be better to delay weaning.

Metrichecking

‘Metrichecking’ is a quick and simple test to check for the presence of pus in the vagina. It is the most efficient and practical way of identifying cows with a uterine infection after calving. Affected cows are treated with antibiotics.

Cows should be checked at least a month before the planned start of mating, although earlier is preferred as it allows more time for a treated cow’s uterus to return to normal function. Cows that calved less than 21 days ago may have some dark-coloured discharge that could be within normal limits.

Non-cycling Cows

Was calving a little slower this year than you would have liked? Would you like more days in milk and more AB calves?

V.E. Vets offers a premium non-cycler cow programme at no extra cost! The addition of eCG at the time of CIDR removal has been shown to improve pregnancy rates, resulting in significant benefit compared to a standard CIDR programme.

By tail painting your herd 35 days before mating and recording heats, you will have a good idea of the anoestrous cows in your herd before mating starts. We can then work with you to treat them early and get the maximum benefit from intervention.