Torch Farm Vets November newsletter
Text only version:
New: Torch Youngstock Club

We invited our farmers involved with the Calf Tracker Programme to join us for the day to discuss all things calf rearing. We were kindly hosted by Paul and Matt Berry of Ashleigh farm, who gave us an insight into their calf rearing unit and were great hosts.

We started the morning with some refreshments while our guests could have a read of their Calf Tracker data, and see how they compared to other farms with our benchmarking information.

We were then shown around the farm by Paul and Matt, who shared their experiences rearing calves.  This included some useful tips and tricks for consistent, efficient milk feeding and building modifications to allow daily alterations to airflow depending on the British weather.

Blood testing of calves has allowed these farmers to assess their colostrum transfer and many of them have made changes in the recent past that have improved calf health pre weaning.  The calf relies upon antibodies from the mother for two to three months before its own immune system is fully developed.

The vast majority of farmers wish to calve healthy heifers at 23-24 months old, this has been shown to be the most cost effective and productive age.  This target depends upon good calf growth from the outset.  We discussed the multitude of factors that might improve or impede calf growth, the solutions to these will be different on every farm. There were plenty of good discussion points raised and the importance of good monitoring to assess targets and progress was evident.

After a delicious lunch, we all convened again to listen to Karen Ingleby from MSD, who talked to us about calf pneumonia and how much of an impact it can have on calf rearing systems (you can guess the answer to that; treatment costs, reduced growth, potentially reduced fertility and production…best avoided!)

We would like to extend our thanks once again to the team at Ashleigh Farm for their hospitality and enthusiasm on the day.


This technician led monitoring service will help you to identify where improvements may be made to your calf rearing system. 
We can then work with you to make these improvements and monitor their success.

Torch Youngstock Club Members will also be invited to two meetings per year. The next meeting will be on milk feeding and the impacts it can have on health and performance by Georgina Thomas of Trouw Nutrition.  Please bring your milk replacer labels!

Please speak to your vet if you would like to be part of the new Torch Youngstock Club.

Top Liver Fluke Dos and Don’ts for Autumn

DON’T assume the dry summer means little fluke this autumn. Stock have been preferentially grazing the boggier parts of the field where the better grass was to be found. Starcross have been seeing cases of liver fluke disease since mid August.

DO think ahead and plan grazing strategies to reduce the risk of infection e.g. fattening lambs and the problem of long withdrawals. Sheep are much more likely than cattle to die from liver fluke infection during autumn. Lower risk fields are drier and better drained with no sedges or rushes. Re-seeds, brassicas or areas un-grazed by sheep earlier in the year will also be lower risk. Housing is another option.

DO consider collecting samples for monitoring if you are unsure whether animals need to be treated for fluke. We can test blood and/or dung samples for evidence of liver fluke.

DO talk to us about the best product to use and the timing of treatments. This is particularly important if triclabendazole resistance has been confirmed. Products vary in their ability to kill different ages of fluke in the liver making some less suitable for use in autumn.

DO remember that liver fluke treatments are not long acting. Animals can be reinfected the day after they are treated. If sheep are dying or losing condition then, where possible, move to a lower risk area or house following treatment. Otherwise re-treat in 4 to 6 weeks.

DON’T wait until there have been multiple deaths before investigating the cause. Either inspect the livers of any fallen stock yourself, or ask us to do a post mortem examination.

DON’T use combination products (including pour ons) unless treatment for both worms and liver fluke is required.

DON’T give white drenches to sheep at the higher fluke dose during tupping or for one month after the tups are removed. It won’t kill young fluke, and can also cause deformities in the unborn lambs.

DON’T use products containing triclabendazole unless you need to. For sheep in high risk areas this remains the best treatment. In lower risk areas, consider changing to products that contain closantel or nitroxynil. If you routinely treat cattle a couple of months after housing there is no need to use triclabendazole.

Abbreviated from an SAC Consulting publication.

For more information, please speak to one of the Torch Farm team.

AHDB – Milking Cow Environments

The Davey family at Highworthy Farm hosted an AHDB meeting run by Jamie Robertson on the milking cow environment.

The areas considered were:

Moisture – Cows produce a huge amount of urine, faeces and moisture from their breath.  Moisture may contribute to mastitis/SCC and respiratory disease in particular.  Is moisture removed? Are gutters all in working order?

Fresh air – is there adequate inlet and outlet?

Air speed – even cows feel cold if there is a gale blowing!

Temperature – do the cows get too hot in the summer?

Light – For optimum fertility milking cows need 150-200lux for 16 hours and dark (or very dim lighting) for 8 hours. Dry cows need the reverse (8h light, 16h dim).

The AHDB booklet on housing (available online) gives figures for inlet and outlet.  An adult cow needs at least 0.15m2 of outlet.  Estimate yours, do they have this? The inlet should be double the outlet.

It is not all about putting up a new shed – there are often modifications that can be made to existing building to improve the cows’ comfort and production.  For example, Yorkshire boarding rather than space boarding to improve inlet, blinds (as demonstrated at Highworthy to adjust to the weather) opening a ridge, improving lighting, improving drainage, grooving concrete.

For more information and advice on your milking cow environment, please speak to one of our team.

Private Gamma Blood Testing Now Available for Bovine

The gamma blood test, the ancillary test to the Skin Tuberculin Test, has recently been made available for private use.

APHA are the only approved laboratory for the test and there are certain requirements regarding animal / farm eligibility, sampling days and transportation of samples.

Examples of the use of private gamma testing include:

Testing of resolved Inconclusive Reactors (IR) now restricted for life in England, in order to release them from lifelong restrictions.

Supplementary pre- or post-movement testing of high value / pedigree animals that are not subject to, or have passed, a compulsory skin test.

More sensitive TB screening of animals joining high-value herds

Rapid retesting of inconclusive skin test reactors where no government-funded IFNG blood test is planned.

Mechanism for scheduling of gamma blood test

• Application to APHA via veterinarian for permission to carry out gamma test

Approval takes a minimum of 5 working days from application (and only after all relevant skin test results have been submitted).

• Test is booked in with testing laboratory and sampling date scheduled with farmer

For inconclusive reactor clearance – test must be undertaken within 40 days of most recent Tuberculin skin test


• Private gamma testing is NOT available for herds under TB restriction or cattle under 6  months of age

• 5% of tests give an inconclusive result, These are still charged for with any re-test charged for fully

• Animals giving a positive result are likely to be compulsory slaughtered with statutory compensation and the herd put under official restrictions

Indicative costs:

• A single animal test for clearance of an IR is listed as £22.20

• Courier costs to send sample according to requirements and return of transport boxes approximately £45

Samples have to be temperature controlled and arrive at testing lab by 9 am the following day

• There are additional veterinary costs for licence applications, visit and sampling time and submission.

Diary Dates
Holsworthy Market 25th Annual Dairy Evening

We are attending the 25th Annual Dairy Evening at Holsworthy Market.  The show and sale evening kicks off from 6pm and we will have a host of winter warmer refreshments for those who come to see us at our stand so be sure to pop by and say hello!

• Weds 14 November, 6pm at Holsworthy Livestock New Market, Holsworthy EX22 7FA

Save the date for some Christmas Rugby Cheer

Eat, drink, be merry, and watch some great local rugby at Bideford RFC on 15th December.

The match against Chard RFC will kick-off at 14:30 but we’d be delighted if you could join us for a bite to eat and a little festive cheer from 12:30 onwards.

• Sat 15 December, from 12:30 at Bideford RFC, Bank End, Bideford EX39 2QS

Please RSVP to our team at the Bideford practice on 01237 870456 or by emailing by 1 December.

Milksure – Use of Medicines and Preventing Bulk Tank Failures

The MilkSure initiative is for British dairy farmers. Its mission is to safeguard the production of wholesome milk which is free of veterinary medicine residues.

With new types of tests being used by dairy producers for detecting medicines in milk, having peace of mind that your milk is residue free will be all the more important. These new tests are not just looking for antibiotics, and other medicines commonly used in dairy cattle will be detected as well.

MilkSure is led by DairyUK and has been developed in conjunction with BCVA (the British Cattle Veterinary Association).

• Thurs 15 & Tues 27 November, 10am – 12noon at Charter Veterinary Hospital, Roundswell EX31 3FG

Call your local practice or email to book your place.