Are Your Bulls Fertile?

  Are Your Bulls Fertile? By Dr Charlie Blackwood  Whilst many dairy farms are busy “AI ing” cows at the moment, they should consider the fertility of the bulls they will use at the end of the AI period. Implementing a BULL FERTILITY EXAMINATION ( called a Veterinary Bull Breeding Evaluation or VBBSE) on bulls prior to joining can detect bulls with low or poor fertility. Studies in Tasmania and South West Victoria have indicated a large proportion (45-50%) of prospective dairy bulls have been found to have low or very low fertility. Vibrio has also been found in the bulls. Disqualifications arose mainly from penile abnormalities, sperm defects and scrotal issues. Bulls should be tested 1 to 2 months before use to assess fertility. Remember, semen takes over 2 months to mature, meaning any nutritional or other upset can cause issues with semen quality. Parts of the VBBSE offered by WVC: Testicle and scrotum palpation and measurement Internal reproductive gland assessment Penis visualization and assessment Semen motility evaluation Semen morphological assessment – in the past this was rarely done.The recent studies show that this is possibly the most important part of the testing. Vibrio vaccination Common conditions found at VBBSE: Small scrotal size, internal reproductive organ lesions, penile lesions including scarring, warts and persistent frenulum. Semen motility and semen morphology have emerged as common causes for failure in the above studies on bull testing. Semen morphology - semen can appear normal under the microscope but have problems which make it infertile. An expert is able to pick up many of these problems. For this reason, we send the...

Another award for David Beggs!

  Another award for David Beggs! A huge congratulations to Dr Dave Beggs who was awarded a Fellowship Award at this year’s Australian Veterinary Association Conference in Melbourne. Fellows of the Australian Veterinary Association are members who have rendered outstanding service for the Association. This is the Association’s most senior award for service to the AVA and is awarded only for the most truly outstanding service. We only see Beggsy occasionally at Warrnambool Veterinary, but he still works here helping to coordinate and analyse our research projects and trials and assisting with the management of Melbourne University residents. He also makes sure the practice computer system works well, and works to upgrade and improve our software programs Dairy Data and Farm Cash. Away from the clinic Beggsy lectures Melbourne University students, and is in the process of writing up his PhD in cattle welfare. He spends a lot of time voluntarily as the Scientific Officer for the Australian Cattle Vets and helps organise Australian Veterinary Association conferences. In his spare time he is on a number of advisory committees such as the Australian Mastitis Council, the Veterinary Practitioners Board of Victoria, and the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. Warrnambool Veterinary is extremely proud to see Dave honoured with such a prestigious award and thanks him for all his contributions to making Warrnambool Veterinary and the cattle industries of Australia successful! Congratulations...

Coccidiosis – Looking after your calves!

  Coccidiosis – Looking after your calves! Coccidiosis has been seen on several farms around the district, renewing our need to ensure calves are protected! There are several ways this can be done, including medicated feeding, pasture management and proper hygiene. The Disease Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoal parasite that invades and multiplies in the cells lining the intestine. It causes severe, often blood-stained diarrhoea, and usually occurs in calves over three weeks of age. Factors that predispose to the development of coccidiosis include those of nutritional, climatic or management stresses, as well as other diseases. It is important to remember that coccidia can survive on pasture from year to year, so prevention is necessary every year! It is commonly associated with overstocked paddocks, or where there is poor pasture management. Calves become infected by licking the coats of infected herd mates or from the ground, walls or other contaminated surfaces. Calves usually contract the resilient and highly infectious coccidia in times of stress, such as when calves are weaned onto pasture. Control The disease is most commonly controlled with the use of a preventative (coccidiostat), such as Rumensin (Monensin), Lasalocid, or Decoquinate. These are usually added to calf pellets or as an additive in milk replacers. Monensin is required at a dose rate of 1mg/kg of body weight (BW) as a preventative, and is usually found in pellets at a dose of 50-100mg/kg of feed. This means that a 50kg calf needs to eat ½ to 1kg of pellets a day, depending on what pellet you are using. The most important note to take is that in...

Colostrum – Monitoring Quality & Prolonging Shelf-life

  Colostrum – Monitoring Quality & Prolonging Shelf Life By Dr Charlie Blackwood A BRIX REFRACTOMETER is the best way to give your calves the best quality colostrums. Read the article below then contact us about buying one. You do need to be shown how to use one. Why do I need One? It is impossible to tell just by looking, how good the colostrums is. High quality colostrums is critical. In the past we have used a Colostrometer to measure quality. Recently a thing called a BRIX REFRACTOMETER has been found to be even better. A refractometer, uses light to measure the quality of the colostrums (and sugar content of grapes, grasses etc in other fields) Advantages of a Brix Refractometer over colostrometer Much more accurate Not affected by temperature Optical ones more robust and compact Using an Optical Refractometer It takes a few attempts, but once you have worked it out, they are easy to use. You put 2 drops of the colostrums onto the glass plate, close the cover, point at the light then look through the eyepiece. You will see a blue line and you look at what number the line is on. The higher the number, the better the colostrums. High readings (>25% Brix) can be a bit blurry to read i.e. the blue-white line is a bit fuzzy. This doesn’t really matter because the low readings are very clear and as long as it’s above 22%Brix, then that is all we are interested in. Prolonging the shelf-life of colostrum In the short-term, if colostrum is not fed within 2 hours of collection it...

Correct Weight Case Study

  Correct Weight Case Study By Phil Keegan Correct Weight is a dairy heifer monitoring program that measures the growth and performance of heifers from weaning to joining. Combined with strategic animal health and nutritional advice, findings and recommendations are made in an easy to read one page report after each visit to the farm. Once weaned from milk, many calves struggle to reach their potential. By not achieving their growth targets, milk production, reproduction and longevity in the herd is compromised. Over many years Warrnambool Veterinary have monitored heifer growth rates. Having heifers reaching Target Weights at joining doesn’t happen by chance, it takes planning. Holding heifers in the back paddock or at the out paddock, checking them for water and moving them once a fortnight is a recipe for small, sexually immature heifers. These heifers are a dairy farmers future herd, they need to be given every chance to achieve their genetic potential, staying in the herd for longer producing high volumes of milk and getting back in calf regularly. Pat & Trish Shanahan along with Trevor & Sarah Shanahan of Toolong operate a medium size dairy farm calving from mid-April onwards with a predominantly Friesian herd with some Xbreds. Their calf rearing system is simple, milk twice a day for 2 weeks then once a day with access to calf muesli, straw and fresh water. Once weaned they continue to have access to some supplements and high quality pasture. In late summer of 2014, after discussion with their vet Dr Charlie Blackwood, they recognized their heifers were not reaching suitable joining weights and were entering the...

Pre-Calving Checklist

Pre-Calving Checklist The following is a list of things that may be useful for you to check off, from when the last calf leaves the shed right up until your next calving season… Download a copy of the list here! Housing ❏ Bedding cleaned out when the last calf leaves the shed ❏ Partitions and walls scrubbed ❏ Partitions, walls and floors disinfected ❏ New bedding +/- shade mesh +/- scoria ordered ❏ Any changes needed to improve ventilation made NOW ❏ Can isolation pens be improved? Records ❏ Record morbidity and mortality rates permanently on computer ❏ Compare to targets – how did you do? ❏ Improve disease recording if needed (eg buy a new white board, new markers) Dry off and vaccination ❏ Plan appropriate vaccine/s schedule (eg which vaccines; 2 shot initial course or annual booster?) ❏ Compile accurate list of cow due dates ❏ Vaccinate cows at appropriate times (see product instructions) ❏ If cows were leaking milk at previous calving, consider teat sealing/assess technique Assisted calvings ❏ Chains, head snare ❏ Pulley/calving jack in working order ❏ Obstetrical lubricant ❏ Calf resuscitator/towels for drying and stimulating calves Colostrum management & newborn care ❏ 7% iodine for spraying navels ❏ New colostrum storage equipment (eg Perfect Udder, juice/milk bottles) ❏ New colostrum feeding equipment (eg Perfect udder bags/tube feeders) ❏ Brix refractometer for assessing colostrum quality –recalibrated ❏ Potassium sorbate for preserving colostrum ❏ New fridge? New freezer? ❏ New jugs for pouring colostrum into feeders Treatment of sick calves ❏ Review of treatment protocols with staff ❏ Box of gloves, special boots & overalls...