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We are experiencing an unprecedented public health emergency, the likes of which none of us have seen before. The health and safety of our staff, clients and society are at the forefront of our decisions.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and following government guidance issued on Monday 23 March, we have adopted the following operating procedures for at least the next three weeks.
Emergency work (e.g. calvings, lambings, sick animals, welfare concerns) remains our priority to ensure animal welfare and maintain the food supply chain.
As there could be sudden changes in practice team availability, we may need to contact you at short notice to either update you of the changes or to postpone the visit.
VETERINARY MEDICINE ORDERS
1. Please place ALL medicine orders by phone to your preferred location for collection.
2. You will be contacted when your order is available for collection.
3. If the order includes any refrigerated items you MUST phone the practice when you are on your way.
4. The order will be made available at a collection point in each location. We will advise the detail of this over the phone.
PLEASE AVOID COMING INTO RECEPTION AREAS.
We are holding additional stocks as a safeguard against any impact on supply.It is vital that you order in the usual way.
Medicine orders may take longer than usual so please give us as much notice possible when ordering.
Temporary changes to medicine drop off points
Our medicine drop off point at Torbridge in Torrington is currently suspended due to branch closure. We are seeking an alternative. In addition until further notice we will be running a single daily drop off at Bradworthy, Bude and Holsworthy. Meds can be picked up from the black boxes alongside the Tamar buildings at each location.
Vaccines will be collected from the front door by arrangement. If you have any queries or need medicine urgently, please contact us by telephone and we will work out a solution.
In line with government guidance, we have put in place strict social distancing measures at our practices to keep you and our teams safe, secure the best care for your animals and help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.
If our vets attend your farm and you are unwell, you must make arrangements for someone else to present your animals.
The visit must take place in a well-ventilated area or outside where possible, and animals should be restrained to allow 2metres safe space between the vet and farm staff.
If these measures are not observed, then the vet will postpone the visit.
A NEW APPROACH TO CALF HOUSING
In what was most likely our last farm walk for a while, we were kindly hosted by the Hockridge family at High Park Farm to discuss youngstock housing.
In June 2019 they installed 8 Optima Climate Calf Barns at High Park Farm after suffering significant calf losses due to a disease outbreak the previous winter. The barns work by creating an individual micro climate for each group of calves and attendees were able to see them in action. Alan Barrett from the Calf Company, who provided the barns, was on hand to answer any technical questions.
High Park Farm belongs to our youngstock club and so we were able to analyse data pre and post instalment of the barns to assess whether or not they had made a difference to the calf rearing process on the farm. It would be fair to say they have!
As well as reducing mortality from 8% to 2%, pneumonia drug costs reduced by 41% and average DLWG increased by 56%. The latter was also achieved through the farm changing to Three Counties Feeds Pro Gro Elite milk powder. We also used temperature and humidity monitors to show that temperatures in particular fluctuated significantly less in the new barns.
There was also discussion around what could be done to improve existing calf housing and an interesting example of an old cubicle house being converted. Attendees were also quizzed on the management of calves in colder weather to maximise growth rates. Calf jackets, giving calves enough straw to be able to nest in and increasing the volume of milk replacer being fed were 3 examples.
We are working to improve and expand our youngstock club. Please contact us for further information.
TB TESTING AND COVID-19
Torch Farm Vets is committed to delivering TB testing in a safe and responsible manner.
At the time of printing, APHA are continuing with the requirement for TB testing. The reason being that during the FMD outbreak of 2001, TB testing was suspended for almost 12 months. The result was a backlog of overdue tests and a massive increase in the rate of new herd breakdowns. One could argue we are still dealing with the fallout from that period some 2 decades on.
Farm animal vets have been designated as ‘critical workers’ during the outbreak to facilitate continuation of the TB and other critical disease control programmes and to play our part in the Food Production pathway.
TB testing Mitigations for COVID-19 situation
The overarching principle during the current COVID-19 outbreak is to undertake testing safely for vets, farmers, farm workers and animals.
With that at the forefront of all our minds – we will contact you in advance of ALL scheduled tests and at the time of requesting pre-movement tests to determine the following:
1. Whether you wish to delay / defer the test to a later date
If you wish to continue:
2. Whether you or any farm related staff are self-isolating, have experienced symptoms of fever or a cough in the last 7 days or are in a ‘High Risk’ group as defined by the Government
3. Whether the facilities for testing can enable the test to be conducted to ensure the required 2 metres separation
4. To establish the number of personnel who will be present at the test
5. Whether any individuals considered to be ‘High Risk’ of more severe COVID-19 are present on the farm
We are basing this risk assessment with direct Guidance from APHA.
After discussing the on farm situation with you, we will determine whether to
a) Continue with the scheduled test
b) Request a delay to APHA and re-schedule for a later date
Options for delayed testing are as follows:
TESTS ALREADY ALLOCATED /SCHEDULED TO COMMENCE WITHIN THE NEXT 3 MONTHS:
● A testing window of three months e.g. Annual Test – can be delayed for an additional two months
● A testing window of two months e.g. Short Interval Test – can be delayed for an additional one month.
TESTS WINDOWS DUE TO BE ALLOCATED IN THE NEXT 3 MONTHS:
● A testing window of three months will be given an additional two months – i.e. 5 month window
● A testing window of two months will be given an additional one month. – i.e. 3 month window
If you or we advise APHA that the TB test could not be completed during the test window, for valid reasons associated with the COVID-19 outbreak e.g. on farm illness, shortage of veterinary capacity due to illness
● This will not be referred to the relevant paying agency for cross compliance penalties and reactors will not be subject to any reduction in compensation.
BUT – If the TB test is not completed within a (revised) testing window, herd restrictions will be issued and overdue testing procedures will be applied.
If at any point you have concerns about maintaining social distancing during the TB test, please contact the surgery ASAP to discuss arrangements.
If between our contact to discuss the on-farm situation, you or any member of the farm team develop symptoms of fever and / or cough, it is essential that you contact us prior to commencing the test.
Likewise if any of our team develop symptoms, they are required to self-isolate for the required time – which may impact on our ability to undertake the test.
Note – that our veterinary team we now operating remotely from other vets and staff thereby reducing the risk of multiple vets and / or staff developing illness or needing to self-isolate at any given time
We anticipate that testing may take a little longer, while we all maintain the required 2 metre separation.
At the start of the test, discuss and assign roles, e.g. who will work the yoke or the front gate, how we can test calves safely.
The crush should preferably not be in a building.
Sadly, your TB tester may have to decline your invitation for a cup of tea afterwards.
Up-to-date information can be found on the TB Hub: www.tbhub.com
A SOBERING REMINDER OF THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAT HYGIENE
This case study is taken from a recent newsletter from APHA Starcross Veterinary Investigation Centre.
A group of seven dairy cows were dried off with teat sealant and given a mineral bolus. The following morning three of the group were found dead and one carcase was submitted for post-mortem examination after anthrax testing was negative. The most significant gross finding was the expression of bloody liquid from all four quarters of the udder and severe inflammation of the udder tissue.
There were also extensive haemorrhages over the surface of the heart suggesting death as a result of terminal toxaemia/disseminated intravascular coagulation.
A pure profuse growth of pseudomonas aeruginosa was isolated on culture of the abnormal milk secretion and udder tissue, as well as the enlarged mammary lymph nodes. This is not the first case of toxic mastitis due to inadvertant introduction of environmental bacteria into the udder during teat sealant application we have seen at Starcross.
Whether inserting antibiotics or teat sealant, hygiene around the process is critical. Wearing gloves during the process, ensuring clean teats and disinfecting the teat ends with the supplied alcohol wipes before infusion is essential to prevent these cases. Post teat dipping and allowing cows to stand for 30 minutes post-infusion is also good practice.