Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) continues to negatively impact herd performance and productivity across many Welsh farms and is estimated to cost beef farmers £45 per cow per year. Support is now available by the Welsh Government to reduce the financial burden of BVD as they launched a new scheme on the 1st of September 2017 that will run for three years. Free blood sampling will now be available for youngstock during routine TB tests in order to identify infected herds with additional financial support of up to £500 available for herds found to be infected.
Getting the ewe into fit condition
- Monitor Body Condition Score (BCS).
Lowland ewes should reach a BCS of 2.5-3 and hill ewes 2-2.5 eight weeks before lambing and maintain it throughout.
Fat ewes are at risk of having dystocia and prolapse whilst too thin ewes are likely to have small sized lambs and insufficient milk.
With the autumn/winter calving season upon us, it is important to consider ways to keep cows healthy at this crucial time. There are many challenges during the transition period but the biggest challenges can be the result of the metabolic changes that occur around calving and as the cow transitions into lactation. The main challenges are; trying to maintain hydration when water intake is reduced; mobilising calcium for colostrum and milk production; maintaining energy intake when dry matter intake is reduced.
Housing provides an opportunity to address the range of parasites picked up over the grazing season, to maximise cattle health and productivity over the winter.
The questions of which flukicide to use and when to treat can be challenging, complicated further by the increasing concerns over triclabendazole resistance. Understanding the properties of available flukicides is key to making informed treatment decisions.
Grazing alone cannot always be relied upon to maximise ewe and ram fertility. We should not be complacent about mineral and trace element deficiencies pre-tupping, which is an important time of the flock reproduction cycle.
As the year progresses, it’s time to start thinking about the autumn parasite challenges, we’ve seen some very high worm egg counts this year which could continue into the tupping season. Continuation of the current warm, wet weather could result in us seeing an earlier fluke challenge too.
With warm weather approaching, the risk of heat stress in calves increases. Everyone is well aware that heat stress in adult cattle reduces performance, increases stress and results in increased incidence of disease, and calves are no different. Calves have an upper critical limit of 25°C, however they will start to feel the effects of heat stress at 21°C.
In order to increase performance in any flock, it is important to consider regular body condition scoring (BCS) in order to identify any drastic changes in ewe condition not noticeable through observation alone. Through this you can ensure that ewes are on target for the system and the time of year, and in turn will result in improved fertility, increased lamb performance and reduced incidence of metabolic diseases.