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Reducing the need for antibiotics in a Cow & Calf dairy unit

Reducing the need for antibiotics in a Cow & Calf dairy unit

Ensuring that animals get clean water that's not dominated by infection causing bacteria is essential in the fight against disease and majorly influences the need to treat sick animals with antibiotics. 

Disease instances such as mastitis, foul of the foot, calf scour and pneumonia have all reduced significantly on this Scottish dairy unit since they have applied Pruex protocols with the aim of ensuring; Dry bedding, clean air, feet and water.

David Finlay discusses what they have observed since they have worked with Pruex with the objective of reducing the environmental challenge their animals face from disease causing agents.

 

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Managing reductions in the risk of Joint Ill and Watery Mouth

Managing reductions in the risk of Joint Ill and Watery Mouth

  

Two years ago Mathew Isaac started using the Pruex protocol to try and reduce 'Joint Ill and Watery Mouth'........How did they achieve this???

As a result Joint Ill was not a problem for young lambs. This significantly reduced the use of antibiotics within the flock from an already low level.

They have repeated the Pruex protocol this year and are spraying the bedding with AHS daily and using the Water Plus to treat the water. This year Mathew has seen a significant reduction in antibiotic use and no 'Joint Ill'.

Samples taken, as illustrated above, show a single E.coli colony (bright pink), within the bedding, probably originating from ewe faeces, and no e.coli growing on the ewes face. The plate labelled 'Land drain Water' shows both good bacteria and bad bacteria, the purple e.coli and the turquoise streps obviously coming from sheep droppings within the water pipes. These droppings are removed daily and there is a commitment to raising the level at which the pipes are situated to prevent this problem.

Watery mouth and Joint Ill can be the result of bacterial contaminations within water and bedding. Pruex work with farmers to reduce the risk of infection from disease causing bacteria, therefore, reducing the need for antibiotic treatment.

Mathew hasn't had watery mouth or Joint Ill as a result of his good management and Pruex protocols (apart from one lamb that failed to receive colostrum. Over a thousand ewes lambed).

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Necrotic enteritis in Free Range laying hens

Necrotic enteritis in Free Range  laying hens

Necrotic enteritis in laying hens. Chickens are usually affected either around 25 weeks of age, or around the beginning of egg laying, or during peak egg laying.

The farmer featured in this video didn't want to continue administrating antibiotics to his struggling flock. He wanted to get at the cause of the problem instead of treating symptoms. He discusses how he has worked with Pruex to attempt to solve his problems. He comments on the results he has experienced by doing so.

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What good stockmen want

What good stockmen want

You know that if you care for cows that you'll need to keep them healthy or treat them from time to time. So, you'll have to be able to handle them. There are many types of handling systems available, but, ultimately, cattle don't like to be individually handled and can become distressed in the process. 

 

Cattle like to feel safe so that they can chew their cudd.

What stockmen want is for their cattle to feel safe enough whilst being handled to chew their cudd.

Dr. Don Finlay, a practising vet from Australia has the solution. He, and his team, have observed, studied and worked with cattle to develop a simple system to calm handled cattle down whilst they are being attended to by humans. 

This is exactly what good stockmen want.

 

 

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Can we reduce stress on cattle and reduce the risk of injury to those handling them?

Can we reduce stress on cattle and reduce the risk of injury to those handling them?

Cattle that need treatment and are restrained can get stressed and agitated and become a risk to those handling them. This can limit production. Even in a crush or held at a feed barrier, the stress levels on the animal can be damaging, and they never volunteer to stand totally still for examination or treatment. So, Veterinarian Don Finlay has brought a divide to the market that can reduce stress and helps the animal volunteer to be examined and handled for treatment, including painful treatments that require pain relief.

The concept - The cattle chew on the oral distraction device. This distracts and cools them down. It reduces stress on them and reduces the risk of injury to the people performing husbandry.

 

Oral distraction of cattle is a new and exciting way to simply reduce panic hormones by calming cattle making them steady whilst they are individually handled. THIS DOES NOT INVOLVE ELECTRIC SHOCK TECHNOLOGY. 

  • Keep your staff safe during cattle handling procedures
  • Cattle get stressed during mustering for handling
    • Calm them down during procedures
  • Can be used to calm cattle to enable pain management application
    • A flustered beast is harder to administer local anaesthetic blocks accurately (Cornual block, Paravertebral blocks, or Peterson eye block)
      • Calm your cattle ahead of pain relief 
    • You don't want any contamination or tissue damage to occur during the first stage TB test, so keep your cows calm and steady by oral distraction
      • Give your vet the best chance to avoid animal and staff stress during TB testing.
  • Make it safer for staff to examine cattle restrained by self locking yolks (Barriers) 

The Science bit

 

Example of use. A bull that is nervous, stressed and flighty whilst in the crush is calmed down and distracted by an Easy Boss E. He cools down and starts to chew in a way similar to when he chews his cudd. He allows the vet to measure his scrotum during a fertility audit.

 

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Video showing - Cleaning up the water we give animals to reduce the need for antibiotics

Video showing - Cleaning up the water we give animals to reduce the need for antibiotics

Providing Clean water for animals is a basic husbandry requirement. BUT, it is very difficult to achieve. Bacteria from faeces contaminate water systems and use carbohydrates and mineral in the water to make biofilm.(Slime). This builds in the troughs, bowls and nipple drinkers, buckets and within water pipes. This increases the risk of infection and the need for antibiotics.

Pruex use “Water Plus” to remove biofilm, reducing the risk of bacterial infections and limit the need for antibiotics.

Healthy animals from healthy water.

 

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Reducing the risk of Watery Mouth and Joint Ill

Reducing the risk of Watery Mouth and Joint Ill

Shepherds have often wondered why typically only one lamb from twins gets watery mouth. Work done by Pruex has identified biofilm on the ewes face as being problematic for the first lamb born. E.Coli from the ewes face being transferred to the lambs mouth during the process of the ewe licking dry the lamb. The second lamb born typically doesn’t receive as much attention as the first as the ewe has to protect/care for the first born whilst it finds it’s feet. The first born will attempt to suck the ewes face as she licks it. The second lamb has less opportunity to infect its digestive system with E.Coli from the ewes face.

Pruex have devised a 5 point plan to help reduce the risk of lambs getting watery mouth. It’s featured in the video below.

 

 

 

 

 

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Using the transition period to invest in cow health for the next lactation

Using the transition period to invest in cow health for the next lactation

The national mastitis plan concludes that clinical infections within the first 30 to 60 days of lactation can be contributed to infections originating from the dry period or calving pen.

Having an environment that is non infective during this crucial period is vital for cow recovery and calf health post calving. We all know the importance of colostrum management, but sometimes our focus on water quality for cows, and dry bedding can slip often due to sheer stock pressure.

Many spring block calving herds in the British and Irish Isles are dry in December and January. This is however a vital time to ensure cow and calf health come calving time.

In this video, Cornishman Andrew Brewer, who milks around 700 cows on a low cost, once a day system discusses how he has worked with Pruex to help solve some of the issues he was facing that were a drain on financial resources and increased his costs significantly. By concentrating on improving the environment his cows are housed in during the winter, he has seen bedding and animal health costs reduce. He has achieved in excess of a 70% reduction in antibiotic use for mastitis since focusing on his animals' environment. Fantastic Andrew. Well done the team at Ennis Barton Farm.

 

 

 

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Insisting on clean water for clean milk and healthy animals

Insisting on clean water for clean milk and healthy animals

Keeping animals healthy by ensuring clean water. Nigel Dinsdale discusses the importance of healthy water for healthy cows.

 

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Finding a cause of watery mouth – an observation with big consequences for antibiotic use in the sheep sector.

Finding a cause of watery mouth – an observation with big consequences for antibiotic use in the sheep sector.

Overbury Enterprises in Gloucestershire is in the middle of their laming season this year. In previous years, watery mouth in lambs, a disease caused by the poisonous toxins generated as E.Coli bacteria replicate within newborn lambs, has required the use of antibiotics at birth. The team were already trying to reduce reliance of anitibiotic use. Jake freestone, the Farm Manager states that "Previously we held off oral antibiotic use at the start of lambing and started using it when we got the first few cases of watery mouth".This year, Jake, along with the estate shepherd, Rheinallt Arch and his team have worked with Pruex to try to limit the potential risk of E.Coli infections in newborn lambs. As a result, an observation made could have benefits for all sheep producers.

 

Bacterial swabs taken ahead of sheep housing highlighted potentially harmful colonies of bacteria, including E.Coli within biofilms in the water system, and the surfaces of the sheep sheds. As a result, Pruex recommended a probiotic cleaning process to limit the risk of infection from these antagonists.

 

The water system is supplemented with “Water Plus”, a probiotic, which cleans out the biofilm layers within the water pipes and troughs. Sheep bedding is kept dry by applying a fine mist of “AHS”, a probiotic at least twice a week, or daily if conditions are wet.

 

Video showing clean water and clean water trough

Swabs taken at regular intervals throughout the sheep housing period have demonstrated the dominance of the probiotic bacteria applied. The latest tests, taken half way through the lambing season found no E.Coli colonies in bedding where lambs are born, nor water samples.

 

However, watery mouth has been witnessed again this year, which could typically only happen if E.coli bacteria are present and infect newborn lambs. What is strange is that it would affect one lamb from a pair of twins. Colostrum management at the farm is well managed, the ewes condition is modulated by management of variables such as feed and stocking rate.

 

 

 

Aled Davies of Pruex was determined to find the source of E.Coli infections, because the usual suspects of water and bedding were obviously not the source of infection. He observed that all free access mineral buckets within the sheep pens were contaminated by sheep droppings. E.Coli bacteria from the droppings, sugar from the molasses in the mineral product, moisture and a far warmer shed temperature would make a fantastic breeding ground for the E.Coli to multiply. Once the buckets were removed from the sheep pens, the watery mouth stopped within two days.

So, how does sheep droppings in a molasses based mineral bucket result in watery mouth in one twin lamb and not the other? Aled Davies has a theory, which, if proved, could have great implications for the sheep industry, reducing use of antibiotics, stress on animals and shepherds, and slowing down the rate of antimicrobial resistance to antibiotics.  Aled thinks that the ewe, whilst eating the mineral, gets a mixture of sugar and E.Coli on its mouth. A nice warm environment, the bacteria would have heat, a source of mineral, energy in the form of carbohydrate and moisture from the ewe drinking water. These elements are all that is needed for a nasty biofilm to develop on the ewes face. Once the first lamb is born, the ewe licks the lamb, and will often lick the lambs' mouth. The E.Coli bacteria on its face being transferred into the newborn lambs’ digestive system. The dilution affect of licking the first lamb could remove or dilute the E.Coli on the ewe’s face so that the second lamb doesn’t get the infection via its mouth. Also, the second lamb tends to get less maternal licking as the ewe has to attend to the first born lamb as well. Lambing outside, the ewes’ face would be covered in soil bacteria, non infective, and not dominant in fecal bugs such as E.Coli.

 

Calling all shepherds. Do you agree with this theory? Aled Davies would like to hear from you. aled@pruex.co.uk

 

Calling all research institutes. Would you like to research this further and prove or disprove the theory? The whole industry would benefit if you did.

 

Calling all levy boards. Can you get involved in researching this theory?

 

This video was posted on Facebook. It shows a thoroughly licked first born lamb, and a second lamb still covered in birth fluid. The mouth of the first lamb born has obviously been licked by the ewe. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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