Torch Farm Newsletter – June 2018

Including an update on responsible use of antibiotics on farms, a review of the Cattle Lameness Academy seminar and the latest industry news.

To view a pdf version of the newsletter click here: Torch Farm June Newsletter



Most of our dairy farms will be used to reviewing their antibiotic use annually as part of their herd health plan. During this process you are likely to have had a conversation about the so-called “Critically Important Antibiotics” or “CIAs”. Red Tractor have recently updated the rules surrounding the prescription of these CIAs and have stated that: “As of the 1st June 2018 the use of Highest Priority Critically Important antibiotics must be a last resort and their use must be under the direction of a vet, backed up by sensitivity or diagnostic testing.”. What this means is that a veterinary prescription is no longer enough to allow the purchase of these drugs. It is likely a visit will be necessary alongside the sampling of animals/lesions to justify their use. To some farms this won’t be new as there are producers that have made these changes already, but for others it will be. Please speak to your vet about how to ensure you have the medicines that are most appropriate for your farm.

The CIAs currently used by Torch include:

• Baytril
• Cephaguard
• Cobactan
• Excenel
• Forcyl
• Marbocyl/Marbox
• Naxcel


There are also some changes for Farm Assured beef and sheep farmers being introduced on June 1st. The main change is that a vet must attend the farm and see the livestock at least annually, regardless of whether medicines have been purchased within that time. The vet must review records and data to identify key issues, for which they will provide recommendations for improvements. As part of this the vet must review antibiotic usage, with particular focus on prophylactic use (e.g. the routine treatment of healthy lambs at birth). As for dairy farms, Critically Important Antibiotics cannot be prescribed except as a last resort under veterinary direction.

Torch Farm vets will be attending the Red Tractor roadshows being held in the region – more details to follow.


Over the last 10 years, groundbreaking UK research has revolutionised lameness treatment. Since then, lameness rates have halved, and sheep farmers have saved an estimated £700 million. Torch Farm vets has three sheep lameness reduction advisors, ready to help you earn your share of the savings.

What can we bring to the table?

• A fresh pair of eyes to your flock
• Collective decades of experience in sheep lameness diagnosis and treatment
• A keen interest in sheep and lameness prevention
• A structured plan to improve foot health

Would you like to advance the health, welfare and profitability of your flock? Contact one of our accredited Lameness Reduction Advisors, Liz Nabb, Jenny Schmidt or Guto Wynne to arrange a visit.




On March 28th, Torch Vets Mike Blake and Emily Linton attended the annual CLA seminar held in Somerset. This is a conference designed to bring vets, foot trimmers, farmers and industry bodies together to discuss the most up to date ideas surrounding cattle lameness. The seminar started by discussing the current prevalence of lameness on UK dairy farms. Disappointingly, we are not doing a lot better than we were 30 years ago with an average of 25% of cows being lame at any one time both then and now. Lameness is a failure in our ability to meet the needs of the modern dairy cow and understand the pathogens involved. On a more positive note there are herds that are consistently maintaining a lameness prevalence of below 10% with zero score 3 cows, and the conference had plenty of ideas to share about how more of us can achieve this.

Some of these ideas are summarised below:

• Genetic evaluation of foot health data is about to become available in the UK. In a Liverpool University genomic study, sole ulcers and interdigital hyperplasia were shown to be almost as heritable as milk yield.

• Zinpro presented peer-reviewed data to show that supplementing with the correct level and source of trace minerals can have significant improvements in the skin integrity of the hoof. This in turn leads to a decrease in active digital dermatitis lesions. A heifer that suffers from DD before or during her first lactation is far more likely to suffer with it again.

• Devices able to monitor lying times may be able to help in the early detection of lameness. Optimal lying times for housed dairy cows are 10-14.5hrs. Two recent studies conducted on UK farms showed that cows with lying times outside this target range were more likely to be lame.

• The importance of farmers, vets and foot trimmers working together was one of the main themes of the day. It is only if we work together to share our knowledge that we will achieve our best results.


Want to join the scores of British farmers across the Country who are working hard to defeat BVD? If you’re thinking “What would I gain from it?”, these are the main direct benefits:

• Better fertility
• Better immunity against many diseases (calf scour, pneumonia and more)
• Better growth rates
• Better profits for increased milk and beef production; meet finishing targets earlier
• Less expenses due to sick animals on farm
• Pride when you sell or show cattle that come from a healthy, BVD free herd

How well do you know BVD and how it spreads? One PI (persistently infected) animal sheds enough virus to infect everyone else in its vicinity and beyond. Everybody knows that PIs are often runty, sickly looking animals that have a bad coat and never really reach their full potential. They may also die young.

BVD Free England is free to join – you can sign up at There is useful information about the disease and implementing an effective control strategy which doesn’t need to be hard! BVD FREE NEEDS YOU! Targeted youngstock screens are a very useful and cost-effective surveillance tool to establish whether the disease is circulating in both beef or dairy herds. When a minimum of 12 months of clear qualifying tests as agreed with your vet are uploaded to the database, your herd will receive BVD Negative status.

Speak to a Torch Farm vet for more information and to arrange a testing strategy.




• Thu 7 June: 10am with Emily Linton Charter Veterinary Hospital, Roundswell, Barnstaple EX31 3FG Please speak to Emily for more information, or call reception to book.


• Tue 12th June: 11am Join us for an afternoon at South Newton Farm, Chittlehampton by kind permission of the Thorne Family. Find out more about Clarifide (genomic testing for your herd): see how the process works and view evidence from other farms, all whilst enjoying a beer and BBQ. To book your space, please contact the Bideford office on 01237 420118 or email


• Mon 2nd July: 6pm,  North Molton Sports Club

Come along for a relaxed evening of 20/20 cricket – or maybe even a 10 over bash if lots of you dust off your whites!

Everyone is welcome – the bar will be open with refreshments throughout the evening. Please call your local Torch practice to register your name to play or let us know if you’d like to come and support this event. Email


We now offer early clinics at South Molton on some Thursdays so you can drop in with your cull ewes prior to sale at market.

Up to 8 barren or aborted ewes can be tested for exposure to Toxoplasmosis or Enzootic abortion (if they are unvaccinated for these diseases). Subsidised tests are available up to July 31st. Thin/poorly productive ewes can be screened for MV and Johne’s disease – select 12 ewes for sampling.

If you are a scheme member you may be eligible for free blood sampling and only have to pay for lab fees (if applicable). Call 01769 610000 to check appointment availability and the costs of health screening for your flock.

Torch Farm Newsletter – June 2018