ANIMAL WELFARE CHALLENGES
Sally recently attended a Dairy Wellbeing Workshop in Green Bay sponsored by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW). The attendees were a mix of veterinarians, producers and tech college students which made for lots of good questiaons. One of the highlights was a tour of the American Food slaughter plant.
The welfare issues we discussed apply to all farms with animals, not just dairy farms. However, dairy farms are facing on farm audits such as the FARM program—Farmers Assuring Responbile Management. Pork producers have similar audtis and cerifications, but as becoming PQA (Pork Quality Assurance) certified. These audtis provide assurance to consumers that their food is safe and that the animals are well cared for. With less than 2% of Americans producing food for everyone else, we can’t depend on consumers understanding how a farm works.
In the future, injuries such as hock and knee sores, back swellings, neck ulcers and lameness will be monitored as part of welfare audits. Tiestalls that restrict movement may need to be redesigned. Some requirements for grazing or planned pasture time may be included in the next FARM update.
One idea that you might consider is to raise your calves in pairs to allow socialization. Calves can be in one pen separated by a wire panel for the first 7 days. Then remove the panel and allow calves to be together until weaning into a group of 12.
Please talk to Sally if you have questions about your farm and how you can improve your animal welfare practices. Remember, these audits are required by milk processors, not the government.
CRYPTO IS UBIQUITOUS
Cryptosporidiosis is a difficult disease to deal with that 90% of dairies have. It is caused by a protozoal parasite called Crytosporidium parvum. We have no vaccines to prevent it, no products to prevent cows from shedding it and no medications that are labeled to treat it. Your best prevention is to make sure that calves are born in a clean, dry environment with as little exposure to adult manure as possible.
As few as 100 oocysts of crypto can infect a calf. They pick them up from bedding, feed, contaminated water, cow manure, other calves, and your boots. The oocysts are very tough and will survive most disinfectants, freezing and drying. The best cleaning is physical removal of all organic matter using brushes or high pressure washing.
The signs of cryptosporidiosis can range from slightly loose stool for 2-3 days to down and out calves with bloody watery diarrhea. It depends on how many oocyst the calf picks up and how strong the calf’s immune system is. The crypto will not kill the calf, but the dehydration and blood loss will. Calves that are infected will shed billions of oocysts, so the infection can spread quickly.
Crypto can cause diarrhea in people, too, especially young children or those with a weakened immune system. Wash your hands thoroughly after doing calf chores and make sure children don’t put their fingers in their mouths when around calves.
We will be carrying a new disinfectant, chlorine dioxide, that is effective a killing crypto. It comes in a tablet that you mix with 5 gallons of water. Once mixed, the solution is active for about a week. Remember that this is a disinfectant, not a cleaner. Items such bottles and buckets need to be thoroughly cleaned with detergent and then soaked in the disinfectant for at least a minute. No rinsing is necessary.
Please call if you are struggling with scours in your calves. We can do tests on manure samples that will help identify the cause(s) and help you improve your scour prevention plan.
EUTHANASIA SOMETIMES NECESSARY
Even with optimal treatment, sometimes animals do not recover or they suffer from diseases or injuries that cannot be treated. In these cases, euthanasia is the best option. Euthanasia of large animals can be a challenge because of the size of the animals, expense of the method of euthanasia and use/disposal of the body.
We are prepared to help you make the best decision for your animal and provide the best possible euthanasia service. Euthanasia is never an easy decision, but relieving suffering is the best for the animal involved.
LINDSEY HARPER EXTERN
Thank you for your patience when Lindsey Harper, our most recent vet student extern, came to your farm. She did a great job during the 2 weeks she was with us. She is no relation to Sally Harper, but she is a daughter of Bob Harper. We enjoy having students and giving them a chance to experience veterinary medicine in the real world.
AUTOGENOUS VACCINE OPTIONS
Have you been seeing lots of pinkeye in calves this winter? Last fall? Are you wondering why calves are affected since we have no flies around right now? We are seeing a different strain of pinkeye now that has earned the name “Winter Pinkeye.” The bacteria is called Moraxella bovoculi, a different bacteria in the same family as the more common pinkeye infection, Moraxella bovis.
None of the commercial vaccines protect against Moraxella bovoculi and it tends to be more difficult to treat than regular pinkeye. We have seen it move through a group over a matter of weeks. Just when you think you are done treating, you will see a couple new cases. It is a frustrating disease.
In the past, we could culture the eyes from a few affected calves and grow the bacteria and have a lab make an autogenous vaccine. However, the process was expensive and required the purchase of at least a thousand doses. Last year, we started working with Addison Labs. They will culture the eyes of affected calves and identify the bacteria. Then a vaccine can be made with as small an order as 50 doses for only $45/bottle of 50 doses! The vaccine takes about 2 weeks to develop after the culture which takes about a week.
We had one herd last year that was very pleased with the results from the vaccine made from the bacteria in that herd. Other herds saw improvements, too. We are excited about the possibilities of preventing pinkeye instead of running around treating calves and seeing calves with white eyes. Do some cultures in your herd now if you want to have the vaccine ready in time for spring vaccinating!
FECAL TESTS USEFUL IN HORSES
Have you dewormed your horse recently? Did you really need to? What dewormer did you use? How do you know what to do? The best way to know whether or not to deworm your horse and what product to use is to bring in a fecal sample to the clinic for testing.
The fecal test will identify which worms, if any, your horse has. We can also see other infections such as coccidia, giardia, and campylobacter. Once we have that information, we can help you make the best plan for treating your horse.
Horses do need to be dewormed with a product that kills the bots once a year in the winter once the bot flies are dead. The bots live in the horse’s stomach and do not show up on a fecal test.