Housed cattle health – five things to check
December 14, 2020
Having the cows in for winter is the perfect opportunity to give your cattle a once over, and we recommend doing this before the winter season kicks in properly. Garston Vets’ farm team offers five tips to ensure your heard remains healthy while housed.
1. Check vaccinations
The housed environment is pretty much a perfect one for viruses to multiply and affect your stock. So, we strongly advise checking that your vaccination protocol is up to date. Prevention will save Cow weight time and money on treatments when the real cold weather of January & February arrives.
2. Check parasite control
This is also a good time to check your parasite control regimes, so if you haven’t already then please do talk to us as the requirement varies farm by farm.
1. Wormers – We’ll always suggest running a faecal egg count before spending money on wormers if they are not necessary.
2. Lungworm and Fluke require further testing so we can diagnose an issue before treating. This will also reduce the risk of resistance.
3. Should animals need treating, it’s important to get them the right product, at the right time in order to leave the herd clean for the housed period. For example, if a shed or group of animals has mites/lice, they should be treated immediately to avoid spread. However, if fluke is an issue, it is best to treat animals 6–8 weeks after housing so that you can hit all stages of the fluke lifecycle.
3. Check your sheds
Most of the problems that we see with housed cattle in the Somerset and Wiltshire area arise due to issues with sheds. Back in September we mentioned that fresh air flow is essential to avoid pneumonia, yet it’s also important to avoid draughts at low level to protect younger stock from draughts. So, have another look at the airflow in your housing as we know that cattle in optimally ventilated sheds perform better.
4. Adequate feed and water space
Speaking of space, having the correct feed to face space is essential for getting housed cattle fed properly. Bullying at feed times is common, and this can be hugely reduced by having the correct feed space for your cows. This varies, depending on the size of the animals and whether you have a dairy or a beef heard. Contact our farm vets for advice if you’d like to check the requirements for your herd.
Other feed tips to bear in mind
1. Cows should be able to feed head down to encourage saliva production and you will get more out of your feed.
2. Troughs should be clean and smooth to avoid damage to cow’s mouth/tongue.
3. Ensure that barriers don’t inhibit your cows’ reach or cause pressure sores that will affect feed intakes.
5. Slurry management
Slurry needs to be kept to be kept under control. If you use them, cubicle beds should be cleaned daily with the bedding replaced as required to keep it clear of muck. Feet that stand in moisture of any kind will become soft, which increases the chance of lameness, Digital Dermatitis and claw horn diseases.
We hope that’s useful. If you need any further advice please don’t hesitate to call us or for specific help just book a visit.