Posted By: Rob - Farm Vet

A farm vets view

I have been enjoying the sunshine over the last couple of weeks; it is amazing how quickly things change. The young lambs are running around the fields and lots of beef and dairy cattle are out grazing. This gives some of our clients a small break from all the winter work of bedding up cattle, cleaning them out and feeding them. Several of the beef and dairy farmers are now out cutting grass to store as grass silage for next winter and our sheep farmers have started shearing their sheep as the hot weather approaches.

The photo is a ewe that I saw at lambing time with non-identical triplets, they are all different colours. 

We are fortunate to be working outside this time of year. I very much enjoy the job, our farming clients are very hard working and always try and do the best for their animals. The last week has been interesting with a good variety of calls.

At the start of the week I had an emergency call to a cow that had nicked a blood vessel on a fence. We sedated the cow on a deep straw bed and popped some stitches in the vessel. I have also had a couple of calvings this week; the farmers are very experienced at doing these and only call us out for the difficult ones.

One cow had a large calf and we had to give the cow some assistance but thankfully the calf was born alive and up and standing within 20 minutes of being born. The other cow had a calf that was born prematurely and was unfortunately was stillborn. The mother was ok though and will have another calf next year. A large proportion of my time is spent scanning cows with ultrasound to check they are pregnant so the farmer knows when they will calve next.

We are also busy testing cows for Bovine Tuberculosis which is a big job for the farms, this is currently done at least annually, but from next year will be every 6 months for most of our clients. Unfortunately this week I have had 3 animals react to the Bovine Tuberculosis skin test which will need to be culled.

 As time goes on we spend much more time working with farmers to prevent animals getting ill rather than treating them. We are currently working with the national BVD free initiative. BVD is a virus that we see in cattle that cannot be passed to humans, it causes reduced fertility and immunosuppression making cattle more prone to other diseases such as pneumonia.

Testing involves either blood sampling 5-10 animals approximately 9-18 months old for BVD antibody or using an ear tag system that takes a small amount of tissue from calves when they are given their identification tag. The tag and test system is more convenient but needs to be done for every calf born for 24 months to fit the criteria for the scheme. For more information on the BVD Free scheme please contact your local vet or check out

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