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The last few weeks have had a dramatic impact on the UK (and global) dairy industry and has seen many farmers forced to throw away huge volumes of milk. Due to lockdown and COVID-19, it is estimated that there has been a reduction of 70-80% in milk volume going into the food service sector. This equates to approx. 1million litres of milk without an outlet and a crash in the spot price making it not cost effective for processors to even collect milk off farm. This is bad timing with the fantastic spring flush we are seeing and farms seeing an increase in milk production with turnout. Part of the problems are due to the different way milk is processed and supplied to large caterers, cafes and restaurants. The difficulty has been exacerbated by supermarkets setting limits on milk buying to stop panic buyers filling their trolleys! The industry is working hard to re-direct milk to where it is needed, with those producing retail products working at full capacity and ensuring consumers are able to access the milk being produced. Most affected are those farmers supplying processors whose products solely enter the food service sector. In contrast those processors supplying supermarkets with liquid milk, UHT, cheese or other retail products have in some cases seen an increased demand. Muller and other producers have requested a drop in production across all their farms, others have announced big price drops or a combination of the two. The worse case scenario resulted in Freshways not collecting from their suppliers at all. We want to assure our farmers that we are continuing to support you in any way that we can. If you are affected by any requirements or changes made by your processor, please get in touch and we will work with you to overcome this challenge to our industry in the short but also long term.


The two most common factors causing difficult calving (dystocia) re big calves (foetal oversize) and a small pelvis. Whilst we can control foetal size by carefully selecting the most appropriate Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) of bulls and dams and nutrition we cannot influence the pelvis size. However we can measure it so we can ensure we are breeding from heifers that have the best chance of calving without problems. Pelvis area is also heritable. This means that if we select for larger pelvises we can helps reduce dystocia in future generations of breeding stock. In practical terms your vet will measure the size of the pelvis with a Pelvimeter (a sort of giant pair of callipers). Checking heifers pre breeding is the best ti me (13-21 months ideally). Whilst we are measuring the pelvis we will also check the reproductive tract to assess how well the heifer is cycling. The information is used to select the animals with the largest pelvises who in turn will go on to breed animals with a larger pelvis size. Larger pelvis means fewer calving problems. I am sure we would all like to see that.

For more information about when the best time to measure and to book in measurement in your heifers please speak to your vet.


APHA is moving to 6 monthly testing in the High Risk Area. This will allow earlier removal of infected cattle, reducing the spread of TB. These tests can also serve as a pre-movement test, and reduces the need for contiguous or trace testing. There will still be a 60 day window for test completion. Farms will be eligible to remain on annual testing if:

• the herd has been TB-free for the last six years OR

• the herd is CHeCS accredited for TB at level 1 or above.

What is needed for CHeCS accreditation?

– A TB biosecurity plan
– Compliance with routine TB testing
– An isolation facility
– Post-movement testing of any incoming animals who are not already CHeCS TB accredited. This testing is 60-120 days aft er arrival.
– Grazing restrictions if there are non accredited cattle or muck on farm
– Farm boundaries that prevent straying and have a 3m gap between livestock on either side.

We would encourage as many farms as possible to become accredited for TB. If you are already CHeCS accredited for BVD for example, TB accreditation will be a small additional expense with major benefits. For a limited time, funding is available to construct the TB biosecurity plan and start the application process for you. Please speak to one of our TB advisors.

Whilst covid 19 has delayed the initial role out of 6 monthly routine testing, APHA remain committed to its introduction in the High Risk Areas in due course.

https://tbhub.co.uk/tb-policy/england/ six-monthly-surveillance-testing-ofcatt le-herds-in-the-high-risk-area/


If you haven’t already, now is the ti me to think about blowfly control for the likely warm months ahead and as with most disease, prevention is much better than cure!

We have already had reported cases of fly strike in lambs and ewes in the area. The most common species of blowfly that infests sheep is the greenbotte; Lucilia sericata. A soil temperature of 9°C or higher and humidity of 60% will stimulate overwintering larvae to hatch and adult flies can start depositing eggs on sheep fleeces 2 weeks later. This early infestation of ewes goes mostly unnoticed, however this low level allows the fly population to grow quickly. An adult fly can deposit up to 250 eggs. With a life cycle from egg to fly as short as 2 weeks in favourable conditions, it is possible to have over 15 million laying flies within 6 weeks of the first infestation. This growth in population in the early season is what causes the problems we see in the summer months. By controlling fly population in spring, we can prevent the exponential growth of the fly population and reduce the challenge later in the season. It also prevents the overwhelming effect of high fly numbers on the permethrintype products, which can then be perceived as ineffective when simply they cannot cope. Methods to reduce early fly population include:

• Using a short acting insect growth regulator (IGR) such as CLIKZIN on ewes.
• Using a short or long acting insect growth regulator (IGR) such as CLIKZIN or CLIK EXTRA in lambs.
• Cover carcases and remove them as soon as possible.
• Dagging of ewes to reduce faecal soiling.


Spring marks the arrival of a new tick season – with the warm winter we have had, tick diseases have been diagnosed in Devon as early as February this year. Tick-borne diseases can cause significant losses in naive groups of animals (those which have not come into contact with ticks and the diseases they carry previously). This is usually your lambs once maternal protection through colostrum has waned or any animal bought in from a low risk tck area. There are 3 main diseases carried by the Ixodes ricinus – the most common sheep tick:

• Louping ill – This is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system. Clinical signs start with a fever and lack of appetite and progress to neurological signs including muscular trembling, unsteadiness, seizure and paralysis. Death can occur in up to 60% of cases in a naive group.
• Tickborne fever – A bacterial disease caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Clinical signs include a fever, lack of appetite and depression. It also causes immunosuppression – meaning affected animals are more susceptible to other infections.
• Tick pyaemia – This disease affects young lambs (<12 weeks) and causes abscesses in the tendons, joints, muscles and brain, and causes ‘crippled lambs’ with severe lameness, paralysis of the backend, ill thrift and death.

Control of tick-borne diseases relies on the use of acaricide products (pour-ons or OP dips) which actively reduce numbers of ticks. However in high risk farms – these may not be sufficient on their own. If your farm is known to be high risk for ticks, then planning grazing patterns and exposing young lambs whilst still under the protection of anti bodies from the ewe’s colostrum can be beneficial to develop immunity within the flock to louping ill. The use of Diazinon sheep dip is probably the best treatment and prevention for ticks but might not be possible on some farms. For these, there are Cypermethrin pour on products such as Ectlofy and Dysect or products containing Deltamethrin such as Spotinor. For the treatment of young lambs please speak to one of our vets. Staying vigilant to the signs of tick-borne diseases is very important as tick numbers in the UK are on the rise.

If you would like to discuss what you can do to reduce the risk of these diseases or are worried you are seeing signs in your flock please speak to one of our farm vets team, who can advise on the best plan for your farm.


Spring is naturally a time of the year when parasites thrive. Stop them in their tracks with a range of products available from Torch Farm Vets.

Sheep Parasiticides – for Fly strike prevention and treatment in sheep:
• Ectofl y available in 2.5ltr, 5ltr and 20ltr (free applicator with 4 x 5 ltrs)
• Clikzin available in 2.2ltr and 5ltr
• Clik available in 0.8ltr, 2.2ltr and 5ltr
• Clik Extra available in 2.2ltr and 5ltr
• Dysect 5ltr
• Spoti nor available in 250ml,500ml.1ltr and 2.5ltr To treat Nematodirus and prevent Parasitic Gastro Enteritis in lambs
• Endospec 2.5% and 10% available in 2.5ltr, 5ltrs and 15ltrs (free doser with 3 x 5ltrs)
• Albenil 2.5% 10ltr Summer Flies in cattle
• Butox Swish the original! Available in 2.5ltr and 12.5ltrs (fee applicator with 12.5ltr)
• Dysect for Cattle available in 1ltr
• Spotinor available in 250ml,500ml.1ltr and 2.5ltr
• Flectron Ear Tags pk 20 Wormers
• Eprizero available in 1ltr, 2.5ltr, 5ltr and 6l (free applicator with 6l)
• Taurador available in 1ltr, 2.5ltr and 5ltr (has persistency of 42 days against lungworm and 35 against Ostertagia ostertagi)
• Bimectin pour on available in 2.5ltr and 5ltr
• Enovex pour on available in 2.5ltr • Bimectin injectable available in 250ml and 500ml
• Autoworm 1st grazer
• Dectomax injectable 200ml

Ring your usual surgery for prices. Further discounts are available on bulk purchases.


We are collecting data from our beef suckler clients to undertake a benchmarking exercise. This project starts with completion of a questionnaire so that we can learn more about your suckler herd. The idea is that once we have your answers we can create key performance indicators to compare across a group of similar suckler farms. You will be allocated an ‘alias’ so that data is anonymous. We will be hosting a meeting (when COVID-19 allows!) to discuss the results and any common themes with the aim of creating a discussion group to address these areas throughout the year.

If you would like to get involved, please complete and return the questionnaire. For further details please contact: Fergus Neish (fergusneish@torchfarmvets.com) or Colin Clarke (colinclarke@torchfarmvets.com)