Page 14 - Livestock Matters - Spring 2013

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Veterinary Surgeon
Bruce Richards
XLVets Practice
Paragon Veterinary
Buying in cattle
The impor tance of biosecurity
Before bringing any new cattle on to your
farm, know the health status of your own
herd and the herd you're buying from, consult
your vet and take a long-term view, advises
Bruce Richards from Paragon Veterinary Group
in Carlisle.
Bruce explains: ‘Good biosecurity is vital when
introducing new cattle on to the farm. Whether
because of replacement heifer shortages or
higher than usual cull rates due to diseases
like bTB, demand often outstrips supply in the
UK, forcing many farmers to look abroad.
However, the importance of a comprehensive
disease-management and vaccination
programme is universal, wherever livestock
are sourced from.
‘Biosecurity is important at many levels;
nationally, regionally, and for every farm and
every animal brought on to that farm. It's not
just about 'boot dipping'. Investigating the
health status of purchased animals, ongoing
disease-testing and monitoring, using
preventative treatments, isolation periods,
good hygiene and accurate record keeping
all contribute towards good biosecurity.’
Buying in cattle
Bruce says: ‘First and foremost, identify with
your vet which diseases are present in your
herd. But just as importantly, establish which
diseases are not present within the herd, so
you can keep it that way. It's essential to
know the health status of your herd and also
the status of herds you're sourcing from.
‘BVD and IBR are two of the main diseases
to keep under control. I advise selecting a
herd with a health status similar or higher
to your own and also a similar vaccination
programme, then discuss it with the source
farmer and their vet. Vaccinating for diseases
such as BVD and IBR may only control the
disease rather than eliminating it - it's
important to establish which.
‘Cattle should be confirmed as disease-free
before they leave the source farm. On arrival,
isolate any new stock for 21 days and have
your vet re-test them before joining the main
herd. This provides an opportunity to identify
any potential problems and take action.
‘It might cost £50-£100 more per animal to
buy high health status cattle and test or
vaccinate them. However the long-term payoffs
are lower cull rates and the prevention of yield
loss, poor fertility and productivity due to
disease. There is also the potential to increase
the value of all cattle in the herd.’
Sourcing from abroad
Brackenburgh Home Farms manager James
Turner milks 200 cows comprising a mixture
of Holstein-Friesians, Danish Reds and
Holstein-Friesian x Danish Reds at Low
Grounds Farm near Penrith.
Mr Turner explains: ‘We decided to look at
cross-breeding in order to improve cow
longevity and because we wanted to increase
the overall herd size. After a lot of research
we decided on Danish Reds as they are
similar both in yield and physical size to the
Holstein-Friesians, so they fitted the existing
cubicle housing. They also have good feet
and legs and require a similar level of
management to the Holstein-Friesians.
‘Seven years ago we bought fifteen Danish
Red in-calf heifers through Chris Dodds
Livestock Ltd, followed by a further nine the
following spring. More recently we imported
an 11 month old Danish Red virgin bull.
‘We chose to import from Denmark because
of the herd health assurance schemes there.
Good herd health, disease control and
biosecurity are very important to us having
Blood testing
(L-R) Bruce Richards, Chris Dodds and James Turner