Torch Farm Newsletter – June 2017

Vital 90 Days —Transition to Lactation

The ‘Vital 90 Days’ are the 60 days before calving and around 30 days after calving.

This transition period is where we set the cow up for lactation. Attention to detail in the dry period and early lactation can dramatically improve the health and production of your cows.

During the transition period the cow’s body undergoes huge physiological changes. Her energy requirements quickly go from approximately 85MJ to around 300MJ – it is no wonder they struggle to take in enough energy! Her calcium requirements will double, with much of this initially coming from her own skeletal stores. She is likely to mobilise body fat which will need to be processed by the liver. She is also likely to move to a new environment where she will need to drink at least 60L of water per day and eat 25kg dry matter.

All cows are likely to experience a degree of negative energy balance and immunosuppression during the transition period. Clinical and subclinical disease are likely to impact upon their production.

The key is keeping this to a minimum through good management.

Together with our veterinary technicians we now offer a service to look in detail at transition cow management using a structured approach.

We will work with you to:

– improve dry matter intake

– reduce stress (to the cows and to you!)

– reduce negative energy balance

– prevent milk fever

– reduce ketosis and LDAs

– prevent infectious diseases such as mastitis or metritis

Our technicians conduct an initial assessment of your cows and their environment. This is analysed in conjunction with your vet. Further investigations such as rumen sampling, urine pH analysis, metabolic profiling and condition scoring may also be conducted as required.

Even the most well run farm usually has room for improvement in this area; please speak to your vet to arrange a health check for your transition cows.


Beef Nutrition Meeting—Silage Analysis

We have recently held our first in a series of beef nutrition meetings alongside John Allen and Tom Goatman of Trouw Nutrition. Many thanks to Matthew Cooke and John Verney for hosting, and Dave Mead from Bimeda for sponsoring.

Key points from the meeting included:

  • Know your soil – analysis every 3-5 years is essential to get the most out of your fertiliser.
  • Timing of silage making is key to quality. As is storage. Quality silage will save feed costs with better growth rates.
  • Get your forage analysed so you know what you’ve got and how much. Quality and quantity. This information can be used to formulate rations. Balancing forage with the best supplementary feeds for each beef stock type.

If you have any queries feel free to contact a member of the beef team


Sheep Blowfly Meeting with Richard Wall

Richard Wall, Professor of Veterinary Parasitology and Ecology from the University of Bristol, has over 25 years’ experience of research about the developing fly and sustainable control methods.

Richard first was invited to speak to Torch clients 4 years ago after the extremely high challenge of flies in 2013, causing the sheep industry serious financial costs as well as the welfare implications.

Richard spoke about the impact of different treatment strategies and the use of integrated management that may be assessed alongside detailed understanding of seasonal changes in risk, patterns of sheep susceptibility and how strike occurs. Blowfly strike can occur quickly with devastating results in warm, humid weather affecting up to 90% of farms. This in turn, has welfare issues for the animals affected, increased labour costs for the farmer and can create hide and wool damage and requires frequent inspection of the flock.

The meeting was kindly sponsored by Elanco and Henry Schein Animal Health; Mairi MacDonald Elanco’s Customer Services Manager-Ruminant discussed the products in their Blowfly Control Portfolio which includes products known as Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) which stop larvae from developing into the harmful second and third stage maggots responsible for fly strike, therefore reducing the population of Lucilia sericata on farm.  The portfolio is completed by a synthetic pyrethroid product which treats and controls ectoparasites including blowfly, headfly, maggot, lice and ticks.

Torch Farm Vets client Mr Matthew Geen was kind enough to allow us free range of his facilities and sheep and was even kind enough to demonstrate application methods using the appropriate equipment and nozzles.

For more information on how to prevent & treat Blowfly strike please speak to a member of the team.


Staff News

Welcome to the team Emily Linton

Emily graduated from Bristol University in 2006, and apart from a brief break to travel and windsurf, has worked in Devon/Cornwall ever since. She started life as a mixed vet but later realised cows were the way forward and completed her certificate in cattle health and production in 2015. When not working she can be found on the beach with her husband, chasing their toddler and/or dog around!

We’d also like to welcome back Ann Symons who has been off for the last 12 months on maternity leave.

Both Emily and Ann will be working 3 days a week out of our Bideford practice.


Diary dates

Cattle—Foot 1st Aid Course

2 Day course


15th-16th June

Responsible use of Antibiotics  Meeting

27th June

Time tbc

Cattle—AI course

3 day course


24th—26th July

For more information on any of these events please give us a call.


Jun NL

Torch Farm Newsletter – June 2017