It appears that over Christmas and New Year it’s not just the human population that have suffered with colds and flu as calf pneumonia has flared as well!

Controlling pneumonia is always a balance between immunity and challenge but prevention is better than cure.

Torch have access to funding for testing to look at what pathogens are causing or have caused pneumonia recently and to look at how to prevent future cases this year and next.

This may take the form of blood tests or nasopharyngeal swabs.

There are a number of different risk factors that contribute to calf pneumonia, these include, but are not limited to, colostrum management and environmental challenges. Alongside our routine calf checks we can delve deeper with investigations by using our thermal imaging camera which allows a visual representation of calves with temperatures, humidity and temperature monitors to assess housing challenges and thoracic ultrasonography to identify lung damage and monitor response to treatment. We can also look at milk replacers to identify the good, bad and ugly and review feeding protocols including cold weather management. Ensuring your feeding protocols are sufficient and good hygiene is in place is a key way to bolster immunity that is usually easy to tweak.

Options for prevention can involve vaccination or colostrum management reviews to increase immunity or changes to housing to improve ventilation or create draught free zones. There are some simple alterations that have been made on some farms that have been straightforward and cheap whilst making huge improvements in treatment rates and mortality.

Funding is limited so please speak to a vet as soon as possible if you are interested.

Udder Cleft Dermatitis- an underestimated problem?

Udder cleft dermatitis is an inflammatory skin lesion located between the udder and the abdominal wall or between the front quarters of the udder. The disease is characterised by thickened skin,crusts, pus and wounds that bleed easily and often has a foul smell similar to the digitaldermatitis lesion.

The cause is unclear, but several factors have been associated:

  • Udder conformation (e.g., loose fore udder attachment)
  • Udder oedema
  • Higher parity, DIM and milk yield
  • Mastitis
  • Digital Dermatitis

Udder cleft dermatitis may cause contamination of milking equipment leading to spread of bacteria in the parlour.

This can have an effect on mastitis cases, bactoscan and cell count levels. There is no licensed treatment and the lesions usually have a long duration and delayed healing. Discuss treatment with your Vet. Early detection and monitoring are essential to improve the chances of a successful treatment and prevent possible spread of bacteria through the blood stream. It is important to record all lesions as soon as they are detected to monitor the prevalence and severity of the disease on your farm. Recording is vital as udder cleft dermatitis can lead to pulmonary emboli which can present as unresponsive pneumonia, nose bleeds and sudden death.Knowing a cow has previously had treatment for udder cleft dermatitis may influence decisions in a cow presenting with these symptoms.

The lesion can be difficult to detect due to the positioning and cows will rarely show clinical signs, they are often first noticed by the smell! There are also mirrors designed for detecting the lesions during milking.Prevention is better than cure so keeping on top of your foot bathing routine to reduce the prevalence of digital dermatitis is important alongside keeping cubicles dry and clean with regular scraping and bedding up.Speak to us for more information about Udder Cleft Dermatitis treatment and prevention!

Happy New Year from the mobility interest group at Torch! A new year is upon us, and a new opportunity to review your herds mobility. Talk about the new ‘Animal Health and Welfare’ pathway, the new scheme in place of ‘Single Farm Payments’ is increasing and although there are many questions yet to be answered, what we do know is one element of this pathway is ‘payment by result’, to begin its trial later this year. For the dairy farmers reading this, lameness prevalence may well become a key performance indicator for financial support. We all know a mobile herd is a productive herd; whether that’s improved fertility, higher milk yield, or reduced culling decisions based on feet. Check out AHDB’s ‘Lameness Cost Calculator’ to see how much your lameness is costing you here:

So what can we do to support your herd’s mobility?

Here at Torch we have six Mobility Mentors -Mike, Nich, Dan, Sophia, Emily L and Hannah F who have all undergone extra training to deliver the AHDB ‘Healthy Feet Programme’.This programme takes a farm based risk approach to your lameness, looking at where the biggest risks come from and finding a problem based solution to help improve your mobility score. An in depth review can be done, or a more succinct look at a specific risk area (e.g. if your main lameness lesions are sole ulcers) can be performed.

Our mobility mentors form part of our Total Hoofcare venture alongside experienced trimmer David Rowe, who provides a foot-trimming service focusing on preventative trims. We have RoMS accredited mobility scorers and information collected during their visits is invaluable; the list generated can identify cows just starting with a lameness issue who will benefit from rapid trimming to prevent her condition from deteriorating, and document improvements when they have been trimmed. Ideally, mobility scoring is performed fortnightly, but even an external scorer visiting quarterly helps us monitor your herd and find areas to improve mobility.

Keep an eye out for foot-trimming first aid courses coming up this year, to help give you the confidence to promptly treat any case of lameness seen on your farm.

If you are interested in having a further discussion about mobility, speak to your vet today to see how we can help.

“I was lucky enough to attend the Oxford Farming Conference as part of the Inspire group at the beginning of January and what a truly motivating way to start the year. The hall was full of people of different ages and different backgrounds including farmers, scientists, industry bodies and NGOs, from all over the world. All with a shared passion for a thriving agricultural sector. The event kicked off with the OFC report launch looking at what role the supply chain plays in sustainable production. Farmers are the biggest risk-takers but often make the smallest profit. It called for, amongst other things, improved transparency, and new business models.

My favourite session was ‘Farming Innovations’ which had everything from dung beetles to satellite imaging, agroforestry to vertical farming. Abi Reader said she could never get as excited about trees as she did her cows, but she couldn’t deny the benefits they’d brought to her farm. There was plenty of discussion around carbon markets and biodiversity net gain and the opportunities they provide, but also the caution with which they must be approached. There were discussions around empowering landowners and managers with knowledge and baseline data to help aid decisions around land use that benefit climate, nature and people to help create a thriving farm business. The Prince’s Countryside Fund launched its ‘Great Grazing Guide’ discussing how to reduce inputs and maximizes grazing efficiency to create increased profit. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room after Sammi Kinghorn told the story of her life changing farmyard accident, and how she had come back from it to become the fastest woman in a wheelchair. It was a truly inspiring 3 days, and I can’t wait for next year!

All sessions can be viewed on the OFC YouTube channel.”