COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – an update for our clients.

Seasonal opening hours for Garston farm & equine clients

Seasonal surgery opening hours

Christmas Eve 24th December – 8.30am – 5pm

Christmas Day 25th December – Emergency team

Boxing Day 26th December – Emergency team

Bank Holiday Monday 27th December – Emergency team

Bank Holiday Tuesday 28th December – Emergency team

Wednesday 29th December – Normal opening hours

Thursday 30th December – Normal opening hours

New Years Eve 31st December – 8.30am – 5pm

New Years Day 1st January – Emergency team

Sunday 2nd January – Emergency team

Monday 3rd January – Emergency team

Tuesday 4th January – Normal opening hours

Please remember to place repeat drug orders by Tuesday 21st December 2021

Emergency Care

As a client of Garston Vets you can feel confident that we are always available to deal with any veterinary emergency that may arise, day or night, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.

If you have a pet emergency please call us on 01373 451115

Frome Market Health Hub – A new service for farmers

A new service could help save the lives of busy farmers putting off a trip to the doctors.

Frome Market Health Hub will give farmers, their families, and agricultural workers free access to confidential health checks, without the need to book an appointment.

Hundreds of rural workers attend Frome Livestock Market auctions every week and the hub, launched by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (SFT), based within the market site, will open its clinic on the second Wednesday morning of every month – the first clinic being held on Wednesday, October 13 between 9.00am and 1.00pm. The SFT believes the hub will provide an important gateway for the farming community who are often the hardest to reach through traditional health service channels, and the hope is that farmers will make use of the drop-in clinic which is deliberately located at the market in what is the heart of their business and social lives.

NHS Operational Manager for the Health Hubs, Jane Fitzgerald, said: “We recognise farmers and farm workers often put the health and welfare of their livestock above that of their own wellbeing and will often put off seeking help, when it could help to save their life. “This is a great opportunity for those living and working in rural areas to access free health checks in a place and time which is convenient to them.”

Frome Market Health Hub will also be the base for additional, independently run clinics being scheduled for specialist problems on a rolling programme. Separately funded Foot Clinics will be held twice monthly, thanks to a grant from Somerset Community Foundation, again free of charge for farmers and with no need for prior appointments.

Health Hub clinics will rely on volunteers from farming and community-based charities like Farming Community Networks (FCN) and the Mendip Health Connectors, to give guidance on any long-term support farmers may need, as well as to spread the news amongst the South West’s agricultural community.

Service lead for Mendip Health Connections, Jenny Hartnoll, said: “It will be a pleasure to get to know farmers at the market and for the Health Connectors to become familiar faces there. “We know how important it is for farmers to have access to health care and advice that’s right there, without needing an appointment. We are delighted to play a part in telling them all about the Health Hub, and the services available to them.”

FCN’s Suzie Wilkinson, who has been involved in a similar health project at Sedgemoor market, added: “We know from our own experience that farmers really appreciate this excellent service which is free and available regularly. Farmers were grateful the nurses really understood their way of life, with all its daily stresses, and didn’t turn up their noses at dirty wellies.”

Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Annie Maw, said the Frome project was only made possible thanks to businesses and organisations like Mole Valley Farmers and Frome Livestock Auctioneers (FLA). She said: “From Mole Valley Farmers, who have given marketing and creative professionalism, to the treatment rooms made available by Frome Livestock Auctioneers; together with all the help and advice given voluntarily by those who feel passionately that we need to do more to help our farmers. “Being able to support our farming and rural community in this way is a first-class example of a public and voluntary sector collaboration – testament to the hard work and team effort of everyone involved. “Livestock markets are an integral part of the farming community. Not only are they a place of business but a place for farming families to catch up with friends and family, so siting a health clinic at these locations makes absolute sense.”

Mole Valley Farmers Head of Organisational Safety and Wellbeing, Lorna Filby, said: “Farmers’ physical and emotional health and wellbeing are often put to one side as the important task of managing the farm takes over. “Farming can be a very isolating and lonely occupation, with many farm workers spending long hours alone, working in remote locations and leaving them with very little time to access healthcare. “In the farming community emotional health is often overlooked yet it is one of the biggest threats the industry faces. With additional challenges from the Coronavirus pandemic these are testing times for the agricultural sector.”


Frome Market Health Hub will be open on the second Wednesday of each month in conjunction with the livestock market’s key sale dates:

· October 13

· November 10

· December 8

· January 12

· February 9

· March 9

For dates of Wednesday foot clinics at the market, please see the FLA Market Report which will have regular updates.



Business organisations supporting FMHH are:

Frome Livestock Auctioneers Ltd

Mole Valley Farmers Ltd

Old Mill Accountants

Cooper & Tanner

Symonds & Sampson Auctioneers

Red Tractor Assurance – New standards

There have been changes to the RTA scheme, some of which come into force at the start of November. The main updates are outlined below, but please click here for full details:


NEW: Tethered housing systems, for stock of any age, will not be permitted on Red Tractor farms.
NEW: Commitment to eliminate the routine euthanasia of calves by 2023. A new standard is focused on a written breeding and management policy.
NEW: A health plan now needs to be signed, dated and reviewed annually by a nominated vet, who should visit the farm at least once a year.
NEW: All farms with workers must have a written health and safety policy.

Beef and lamb

NEW: Tethered housing systems, for stock of any age, will not be permitted on Red Tractor farms.
NEW: Individual farm protocol for eradication of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). This needs to be documented in a health plan and implemented.
NEW: All farms with workers must have a written health and safety policy.
NEW: The health plan now needs to be signed, dated and reviewed annually by a nominated vet who should visit the farm at least once a year.
UPGRADED: At least one person on farm must have undertaken medicine training to help raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance and drive best practice.

Six-monthly TB testing

Please be aware that APHA are beginning to phase in six-monthly TB testing for herds in High Risk Areas of England from July 2021.

Increasing the frequency of surveillance testing in the HRA from annual to six-monthly will help detect TB-infected herds at an earlier stage. This reduces the time M. bovis can spread within the herd, be transmitted to other herds, and potentially shed in the farm environment. Farms with no TB breakdown in the previous six years or accredited Level 1 or above in the TB CHECs health scheme will be eligible to stay on annual testing.

First routine WHT – Between July and December 2021       Next test window (if 1st test clear) – First six-monthly herd test from January 2022 onwards


First routine WHT – Between January and June 2022        Next test window (if first test is clear) – First six-monthly herd test from July 2022


To find out more about TB testing on your farm or smallholding, or if you have specific questions that aren’t covered here, feel free to contact our farm vets for advice.

Body Condition Scoring (BCS) in Beef Cattle

Body condition scores are a vital part of successful fertility management on beef units. These techniques are ways of managing body condition score changes throughout the year if required:

• House later if grass growth and quality has been good in the summer and a decrease in BCS is required
• Wean calves later if a decrease in BCS is required
• Increase straw in the ration, costs allowing, to decrease ME of ration and prevent excessive BCS gain during winter housing
• Manage thin cows and heifers as a single group requiring extra energy to allow accurately targeted feeding

During winter housing feeding 1kg of barley/day will equate to a gain in BCS of approximately ½ unit body condition score

During summer wean calves earlier if thin or a heifer; weaning 1 month earlier will equate to a gain in BCS of ¼ unit if pasture quality is good.

If you would like to know more about Body Condition Scoring or our cost-effective Vet Tech Farm Services, please contact our farm team.

Good post-operative care on the farm

Following a recent seminar on farm animal surgery, Rich Talbot gives us some key factors to achieve a speedy recovery:

Operations on farm animals are commonplace; from caesareans to enucleations (eye removal). As with any procedure, complications can arise. Good post-operative care is key to welfare and vital to ensure the animal continues it’s productive life.
With good stockman ship, husbandry and communication with the operating vet, many complications after surgery can be avoided. Here’s what to watch out for:

Pain and discomfort:
•Decreased movement/altered locomotion
•Decreased interaction with other animals
•Reduced feed intake (hollow left flank due to poor rumen fill)
•Tooth grinding
•Dull/poor coat condition
•Reduced mental activity & responsiveness
•Animals post-op MUST have clean, dry, comfortable bedding that is grippy under foot.

Wound complications:
•Abnormal discharge

•Poor feed intakes – Most likely related to pain

Access to feed
•Animals post-op MUST have access to good quality forage at all times.

•Can be related to pain
•Poor access to water
•Signs include poor skin tenting, sunken/hollow eyes, tacky mucous membranes (gums)
•Correction of hydration can be achieved by stomach tube. This is an extremely useful tool for farmer & vet.

Medication compliance:
•Most animals will be placed on a course of antibiotics. Due to the nature of surgery on farm, it is never completely sterile. As a result, infections are a risk.
•It is important to completely finish any course of medication. Sometimes an extended course may be needed.
•Communication with the vet is important if you notice any of the above signs. Early detection results in faster treatment and faster recovery.

Is your dairy herd protected from Leptospirosis?

Dairy herds are particularly at risk from Leptospirosis due to management factors that increase the risk of exposure, including close contact within the herd and with dairy workers, confinement during milking and in the yard, and moist conditions.

Leptospirosis is a serious infectious disease that can have detrimental effects on a dairy herd’s health and production. It can also cause serious and sometimes long-term illness in humans. Are your dairy herd and workers protected?

Garston’s large animal vets recommend a robust vaccination programme to give your dairy herd long-term immunity from Leptospirosis, protecting both cattle and humans.

Book a herd visit

How Leptospirosis is spread:

– Infected cattle can shed the bacteria in their urine for months and sometimes years, which causes new infections in susceptible animals.
– The bacteria can survive for weeks in water, mud, and damp soil.
– Infection can occur through fine urine droplets being inhaled by cattle and humans during milking.
– The mouth, nose, eyes, and damaged skin can be penetrated by the bacteria.
– Humans, cattle, sheep, pigs, rodents and most other mammals are at risk.

How dairy herds can be affected:

L. pomona infection:
– Can affect most cattle within a herd, with fatalities of up to 100%.
– Can cause dramatic milk reduction in older herds.
– Can sometimes cause abortion.
– Less common disease in calves that are fed colostrum from vaccinated cows giving them temporary immunity.

L. hardjo infection:
– Can affect many cows in the herd.
– Sudden drop in milk yields (up to 2 weeks), increased white blood cell count.
– Can cause 5-10% abortion rate between 6-12 days after transmission.

When it comes to humans, the infection typically causes a severe flu-like illness for about a week, or can cause a recurring chronic disease or severe nervous symptoms in some people. Dairy herd farmers have a duty to protect workers and their families from Leptospirosis as a failure to do so can result in potential liability, as well as a reduction in their workforce while they recover.

The ideal aim of a vaccination programme is to immunise all cattle before infection occurs. If Leptospirosis is already present in the herd, vaccinating young uninfected cattle is where you would start.  Book a visit.

How is TB testing being affected by Coronavirus?

When COVID-19 took hold of the UK in March 2020, a range of measures and restrictions were brought in to protect the health of farmers, animals, vets, and consumers. As health advice evolved, so did measures relating to bTB testing and the movement of cattle.

Ask us about bovine TB testing

As we embrace 2021, what is happening this year when it comes to bTB tests during the Coronavirus pandemic? Garston Vets farm unit have read through DAERA’s (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) FAQs, updated 26/10/2020, to bring you a summary of the key points for the start of 2021:

  • On December 1st 2020, movement restrictions relating to overdue bovine TB tests returned to being applied 7 days after the test was overdue.
  • From 05/01/21 restrictions state that herds with a bTB test 37 days overdue are not permitted to purchase new bovines or move cattle to slaughter.
  • Calves under 180 days of age are temporarily exempt from bTB testing, where tests cannot take place safely i.e. where social distancing cannot be achieved.
  • Untested calves 42-180 days old at time of test will be restricted and must be tested before being sold. Untested calves less than 42 days old at time of test can be sold if the herd test is clear.
  • Cattle herds placed under movement restrictions whilst waiting for an overdue bTB test to be completed may apply to DAERA for a licence to move cattle off the holding in exceptional circumstances.
  • Whole herd movement restrictions are automatically placed on cattle herds that become overdue with their TB testing. Their official TB free status is suspended as the TB status of the herd is unknown and is a potential risk to other herds. Restrictions apply 7 days after the test due date.
  • To minimise the risk of herds going down with bovine TB during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should follow all the normal rules about biosecurity and avoid buying cattle unless you’re confident the seller’s herd is TB free.
  • The position regarding bTB testing during the COVID-19 pandemic is being kept under review taking into account feedback from herd owners, vets and the experiences of other jurisdictions. DAERA’s position will continue to be primarily based on the advice of the Public Health Agency.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic affected bTB testing on your farm or smallholding? If you have specific questions that aren’t covered here, feel free to contact our farm vets for advice.

Housed cattle health – five things to check

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.

Book a winter check

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.

Book a winter check

Four poisonous plants every farmer should be able to spot

As a rule, most poisonous plants are unpalatable to livestock, however a lack of available food, dead or dying plants and the vagaries of individual animal behaviour make an awareness of the common plant poisoning cases we see in Somerset and Wiltshire a useful thing to have on your back pocket.

Rhododendron, Ragwort, Oak & Yew are four of the more common plants we see causing problems, in autumn and winter, as available pasture diminishes. Whilst our basic advice is to keep an eye on pastures, inspect field boundaries and where possible, move animals from fields where there is a danger … it doesn’t hurt to know what to look out for as farmers in the areas around  Frome, Melksham, Trowbridge, Warminster & Westbury continue to have problems.

If you think you have a livestock poisoning issue, then please keep our emergency details handy.

Get our emergency details

The main problems we get in this area come from the following four species:


An invasive species that’s now common in gardens across the UK, Rhododendron contains a poison that slows the heart and lowers blood pressure. Stock become weak and are unable to stand, ruminants often bloat up and then vomit. Poisoning is most common when snow cover reduces grazing. If you suspect Rhododendron poisoning call us, as we can treat with anti inflammatory medication and oral re-hydration.


Most common in the autumn and more dangerous to cattle than sheep, the greatest risk to cattle is from Ragwort in preserved forage that can be readily eaten but has lost none of its toxicity. Ragwort ingestion basically damages the liver, but symptoms usually begin to show when it’s eaten over time. This is actually good news (because you have time to spot the plant) as there is no treatment apart from removing the plant from the diet.


More likely after stormy weather when leaves and acorns fall and are eaten by animals. Leaves and acorns contain tannins that can bypass natural protection offered by rumen microbes and go on to damage kidneys and cells. Hard to spot but abdominal distention and the animal lying down are the main symptoms. There is no treatment, so the only option is to remove animals from the danger.


Common in gardens and churchyards, ingestion can lead to rapid death. Again, there is no treatment, so prevention is your only option. Inspect field boundaries and if there is un-movable yew, then be especially vigilant in winter, when heavy snow can cause boughs to sag bringing previously un-reachable branches into play.

There are a couple of other culprits you should beware of too; Bracken, Water dropwort & another plant from the Rhododendron family, Pieris. These tend to be more prevalent in spring and summer as young plants bloom & flourish. So, we’ll come back to those in the Spring.

In the meantime, keep an eye on those field boundaries and keep our emergency details handy.

Get our emergency details

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