Bactoscan is an important indicator of milk quality and hygiene. The measurement is carried out via an automated process that determines the total number of bacteria present in raw milk. High bactoscan affects milk processing quality and reduces shelf life of milk. However, from a farm perspective, high bactoscan results have a direct financial impact in terms of penalties as well as being indicative of poor udder health, which can also impact financially. Penalties vary depending on the milk supplier and they usually start once averages exceed 50,000 bacteria/ml. However, high bactoscan can also affect milk contracts prices. A common bactoscan cost in pence per litre is shown in the table below. The milk The environment The milking plant There are three main sources of bacteria in the milk: 1. 2. 3. Bactoscan and mastitis Most bacteria causing mastitis will be shed in large numbers through the milk. This is the case for both clinical and subclinical mastitis (high cell count) and is particularly true for some bacteria species such has Strep uberis. High bactoscan can be therefore linked to poor mastitis detection or high number of “high cows” in the herd. In this context, it is useful to analyse bactoscan and mastitis data together. The environment This is a very broad term which includes all the bacteria that enter the plant and do not originate from the milk. These bacteria can come from soiled teats, contaminated water, contaminated pre-dip equipment, soiled parlour or hands. Poor teat preparation, suboptimal cow cleanliness, housing/ventilation issues, water sourcing, storage and piping can all affect bactoscan. The milking plant Bacteria that enter the plant and the tank and are not cleaned out properly can start to replicate and cause bactoscan to rise. Equally, if refrigeration is not achieved quickly and maintained, bacteria can carry on replicating in the tank. However, these are not the sole causes of milking plant- origin high bactoscan. Exposed or excessively long milk lines, cracked piping, worn rubber components (and liners), water or air leaks, dead ends/small tanks in the milk line, can allow for build-up of bacteria and milk contamination. High bactoscan is a common problem on many farms. As shown in the chart below, 25% of Torch milk recordings for which data was available had an average bactoscan of 50,000 or above in the first 6 months of 2022. Bacterial count is a relatively straightforward process. It involves collecting 2 sterile samples from the top of the tank and delivering them refrigerated to your closest branch. Please speak to one of our vetsfor further information. How can Torch help? Having a detailed bacterial count done will help you in narrowing down the sources of bacteria in your tank and target possible causes to then allow a more focused investigation. Daniel Scovenna MRCVS. Daniel qualified from the University of Milan in 2008. He has gained valuable experience during his time working in the UK (including Cambridge University) and in Belgium. He joined the Torch Farm team in 2012. Daniel has a keen interest in all aspects of farm animal practice.

Performing a breeding soundness exam on all rams prior to the breeding season is always advisable but with the recent hot spell there is even more reason to get them tested! High temperatures can be detrimental to a ram’s fertility. Heat stress can cause the rams to be infertile or subfertile for a prolonged period of time. Due to the long process of sperm production heat stress can have an effect on sperm quality for 6 to 9 weeks or even longer. A sub fertile ram can be hugely costly as he can affect the performance of all the ewes he runs with. Even if multiple rams are used in a group, an infertile dominant ram can stop the other fertile rams from working. We advise a pre-breeding physical exam and semen assessment is performed at least 6 weeks prior to tupping which allows time for any issues noted to be corrected or replacement ram(s) to be sourced. Teasers are very useful in flocks to tighten the lambing period and/or encourage ewes to come into season a week or two earlier than normal. This may suit farmers that would prefer to have the majority of lambs born within a short period of time when help is available. It may also mean a more uniform crop of lambs for selling. A vasectomy needs to performed at least 6 weeks prior to use therefore time is running out! To arrange to bring your rams in for breeding soundness examination, a vasectomy or more Information about the procedures please contact your local branch. Guto Wynne BVMS MRCVS Guto is the lead Vet of the South West Sheep Breeding Services team based at our South Molton branch. In his spare time, if he hadn’t spent enough time working with sheep during the day, Guto can be seen tending to his small flock of Valais Blacknose sheep.

We have just started recording all egg counts on a new spreadsheet to enable us to look at previous counts and previous treatments in one place. When you bring samples into the surgery you will be asked to fill in a form with details about the group and any previous treatments. This information is important so we can give the best possible advice. Please bring samples from 10% of the group or a minimum of 10 from each group. These samples should be fresh (warm) and gloved separately for accurate pooling at the surgery. We aim to report counts on the same day if brought in before 12. Please try not to bring any samples in on a Friday as they might not be done until the following Monday. Fluke and lungworm testing will take a bit longer. We have seen some very high counts in the last month despite the dry weather. We are also concerned there could be a mass emergence of larvae after some rain; this could lead to a number of animals showing symptoms before a high egg count would be seen. Advanced Herdsperson Courses Our series of Advanced Herdsperson courses are designed for herdsmen who wish to expand their knowledge and step up to the next skill level. Our vet led courses are interactive, will challenge your thoughts with participant numbers kept small to give you the maximum benefit per course. To register your interest or to book a place please email All course dates will be advertised on our social media.