Grazing deficits are common as this year's spring is too dry and cold for optimal grass growth.

Spring Grazing Deficits: Why Isn’t the Grass Growing?

Spring Grazing Deficits: Why Isn’t the Grass Growing? Across the UK, many farmers are reporting grazing deficits. This occurs when the demand for feed from pasture is greater than the amount of grass actually growing. When this happens, farmers must provide animals with extra feed to keep them healthy and maintain growth. With peak lambing season upon us, there are many extra mouths to feed in UK flocks. So why isn’t grass growing as much as expected? And what can…

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Tick Prevention Week: Livestock

Tick Prevention Week: What you need to know for livestock What are ticks? Ticks are obligate parasites, meaning they require a host to complete their lifecycle. They are of great veterinary and medical importance as they are only inferior to mosquitos in their disease spreading potential. Tick species feed on livestock and other animals around the world and are a diverse and successful group. Tickborne agents can be mildly pathogenic, severely pathogenic and some can infect humans too. Additionally, ticks…

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Spring Pasture

Spring Pasture: What to consider before letting your animals out to pasture With lambing season upon us, there are many things to consider when grazing animals on spring pasture. Many cattle herds and sheep flocks are housed indoors over the winter months for various reasons. Indoor housing during the winter months provides protection from the elements and cold conditions, as well as conservation of energy that would have been spent keeping warm – meaning the energy can be better put…

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Foot and Mouth Disease: The UK Outbreak of 2001

What is foot-and-mouth disease? In 2001 the UK went through an epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) which led to the slaughter of 6.5 million animals and a cost of £8 billion.1 What have we learned from it, and what has changed to stop it from happening again? Foot-and-mouth disease is a viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals such as sheep, pigs and cattle. It is present all over the world and has had a large impact on agriculture for many years.…

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Lice infestations in Cattle and Sheep: Indoor Winter Housing

Lice infestations in Cattle and Sheep: Indoor Winter Housing What are lice? Lice are ectoparasites that live permanently on their host. They either feed off blood meals or on the skin, hair, fleece or any other debris on the skin.  These are named sucking or chewing lice, respectively. Bovicola ovis and Bovicola bovis are chewing lice which are found on sheep and cattle, respectively. In the UK, three species of sucking lice commonly affect cattle — Linognathus vituli, Solenopotes capillatus, Haematopinus eurysternus…

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Cystic Ovarian Disease

Infertility in Cows: Cystic Ovarian Disease What is Cystic Ovarian Disease in cattle? Cystic ovarian disease (COD) is a major problem associated with poor fertility in dairy cattle. Reportedly, from 6 to 19% of dairy cows develop cysts. It is possible, however, that the incidence of the disease is as high as 60%, as many heifers recover without intervention1, meaning they may go undetected. It is characterised by the presence of at least one enlarged anovulatory follicle on one or…

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Bluetongue in Sheep and Cattle

Bluetongue in Sheep and Cattle What is bluetongue virus? Bluetongue virus (BTV) is a double-stranded RNA virus that causes bluetongue. This is an insect-borne, viral disease which mainly affects sheep and, less frequently, cattle. Bluetongue is a notifiable disease in the UK. Notifiable diseases are any diseases required by law to be reported to government authorities. They must be reported immediately to the Divisional Veterinary Manager at the local Animal Health Office. There are 26 serotypes for this virus. Animals…

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Paratuberculosis (Johne’s Disease) in Cattle

Paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease) in Cattle What is Johne’s disease? Johne’s disease is an infectious disease in cattle and other ruminants. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, commonly known as MAP. It is closely related to the organism that causes tuberculosis and can survive on pasture for many months. The infection is very contagious and young animals are more susceptible to the disease than adults. This disease damages the intestines and results in persistent diarrhoea, weight loss…

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Calf Diseases: The Importance of Colostrum

Calf Diseases: The Importance of Colostrum In terms of survival, the first few weeks for a calf are particularly important. As their bodies are still developing, they are not yet primed to effectively fight illness. The colostrum they receive is a vital step in protecting them from disease. It is important for livestock farmers to be aware of these three common calf diseases and also to know what steps can be taken to prevent and treat them. What exactly puts…

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Infected Liver fluke snail

Parasite Watch Autumn Edition: Parasites to Watch Out For in Your Ruminants

Parasite Watch Autumn Edition: Parasites to Watch Out For in Your Ruminants This week we’re going to focus on parasites which cause two specific diseases in ruminates. These are parasitic gastroenteritis or PGE, caused by roundworms, and liver fluke, caused (unsurprisingly) by liver fluke flatworms. What is PGE? Parasitic gastroenteritis is one of the major contributors of reduced productivity in ruminants. An overburden of parasitic nematodes (roundworms) causes the infection in cattle, sheep and goats. These parasites reside in the…

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