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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Some flocks experienced lamb loss of up to 60% in the first Schmallenberg outbreak.

Schmallenberg Virus: What are the facts?

Schmallenberg Virus: What are the facts? Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was first encountered in October, 2011 in Northern Europe.1 The virus was initially isolated from a sample from the town of Schmallenberg, which is how it got its name. The virus is associated with clinical disease in ruminants, both domesticated and wild, and can cause a wide variety of clinical signs. It is transmitted by biting midges (Culicoides spp.), much like bluetongue virus, and can cause extreme problems in infected animals.…

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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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Listeriosis in sheep

Listeriosis in sheep What is listeriosis? The bacterium Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis across the world. It is associated with serious disease in a wide variety of animals, including humans. Listeriosis is of major veterinary importance in cattle, sheep and goats. In the UK, it most commonly affects sheep.  The gram-positive bacteria can survive in the environment for a long period of time. Grazing animals ingest the organism from pasture, with transmission of the disease via the faecal-oral route.  Listeriosis is a zoonotic…

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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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Nematodirosis in Lambs

Nematodirosis in Lambs What is Nematodirus? Nematodirus spp. are thread-like roundworms that infect the small intestine and cause nematodirosis in lambs, goats and occasionally cattle. Nematodirus spp. infection largely affects lambs in springtime as adult sheep develop a natural resistance to the infection. Due to its unique development and life cycle, a phenomenon known as the spring flush can occur. Three species of Nematodirus spp. can affect sheep, with N. battus as the most pathogenic. Other species are N. filicollis…

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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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Sheep Scab and Psoroptes ovis

What is Sheep Scab? Sheep scab is a endemic disease caused by Psoroptes ovis, more commonly known as scab mites. Scab mites defecate on the skin which causes an allergic reaction. With a short life cycle of only 14 days, scab mite populations can increase fast and can infect an entire flock. Even more so when kept indoors and in close proximity. The mite can survive for up to 17 days off the sheep, but needs a sheep to complete its…

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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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