Preparation for Turnout

Turnout is fast approaching for most and has already happened for a few. It is the time of year where there is an opportunity to get our house in order. Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of TB testing in the summer will tell you handling animals at grass is something to be minimised, so thought should be put into the jobs that should be done before handling becomes difficult.

Animals at grass are at risk of different diseases to those housed. Leptospirosis is contracted from contaminated water sources, so even closed herds can be at risk. It can be a dramatic disease with abortion storms, milk drop and weak calves, but more commonly it manifests as a grumbling infertility.

Clostridial diseases such as black leg are soil borne so there is an ever present risk when stock is grazing. The most common sign of Clostridia is sudden death. Both leptospira and clostridia can be vaccinated against.

Lungworm is also a major concern at turnout. The unpredictable nature of pasture contamination with lungworm larvae makes it impossible to guarantee that stock will experience the continual low level exposure needed to develop natural immunity. Animals in their first grazing season are the most at risk, but adults can also suffer. If you have experienced lungworm previously vaccination could be considered.

Schmallenberg and Bluetongue viruses seem to be encroaching further North in Europe so may become more of a problem as the temperature warms. They are spread by biting insects, which makes any form of control problematic and the effect of UK fly control products is possibly limited. However by having an early and stringent fly control policy in place we can at least do our best to reduce transmission via the insect population. Vaccines for both can be imported.

Gut worms are our final turnout consideration. Low levels of overwintered gut worm larvae will be picked up after turnout by stock, which develop into adult worms and lay eggs, increasing pasture contamination. How quickly these eggs develop into infectious larvae is temperature dependant but often the majority of larvae are infectious by the end of June/beginning of July.

Worming strategies for gut worms need to be tailored to your farm, and again it is about trying to build up immunity to these worms over the grazing seasons.

A good worm control strategy will minimise the production loss related to worms, minimise the risk of wormer resistance and allow stock to develop protective immunity to worms. Speak to a vet for guidance on worming.

Worm egg counts should be performed often during the grazing season and give valuable information as to whether there is a need to worm stock and how effective a wormer has been.