In our Rothbury lab:
- Worm egg counts (strongyles and nematodirus)
- Coccidiosis counts
- Fluke egg counts
- Skin scrape examination for parasites
- Colostrum quality testing
- Blood testing for downer cows – calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus
- Semen analysis
- Anthrax testing
- Ketosis check – shows severe energy deficit (cow-side)
Most other samples that we collect are sent to the lab at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).
The postmortem of deadstock can sometimes be the key to unlocking information about key diseases on a farm and can sometimes reveal the cause of losses and allow measures to be put in place to control disease and losses.
Every farm will have a health plan. These are tailor made for each farm and vary considerably in their complexity. The aim is to record certain production figures that can be compared year on year. We can then use these figures alongside discussions to pick action points that will have the greatest impact on improving the productivity of the farm. Each plan will contain targeted vet visits when they will have the greatest benefit. Common routine visits will be pre-tupping to fertility test the rams, and pre-lambing to take blood from a small group of ewes to check their energy levels. We can then give nutritional advice to help improve colostrum quality, improve lamb viability and decrease the incidence of twin lamb disease. Bleeding ewes to check their trace element status ties in nicely with ram testing.
Animal Health & Welfare Pathway
Launched in 2022, the Animal Health & Welfare Pathway is a 4 step pathway to incentivise and reward higher animal health and welfare on the farm, with focus on on improvements which are valued by the public but not sufficiently delivered by the market. The pathway is one scheme in place to support farmers through the withdrawal of BPS.
Step 1: Annual Health and Welfare Review
- The Review is initially for cattle, sheep and pig farmers who are eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and who have more than 10 cattle, 20 sheep or 50 pigs. The Review will be made available to farmers not currently participating in the BPS as soon as possible.
- The amount of funding available varies between enterprises: £684 for pigs, £436 for sheep, £522 for beef cattle, £372 for dairy cattle.
- Click here to apply for a review or give us a call to discuss further.
Step 2: Animal Health and Welfare Capital Grants
- There will be a range of grants available:
- Smaller grants, where farmers can select from a list of equipment and technology items
- Larger grants, for bespoke infrastructure projects such as new housing, building upgrades and pasture improvements
Step 3: Disease Eradication and Control Programmes
- Farmers will be able to apply for financial support to prevent and reduce endemic diseases and conditions, building on the initial advice given in the Review.
- The programmes will target the initial priority endemic diseases; BVD in cattle and anthelmintic resistance in sheep.
Step 4: Payment-By-Results
- Payment-by-results could reward farmers who demonstrate high animal health and welfare outcomes by contributing to the ongoing costs associated with higher welfare practices. This step of the pathway is not yet available.
Livestock housing must be fit-for-purpose to support good health and welfare of livestock and prevent disease. 80% of sheds can be improved with minimal investment. Correct ventilation can reduce humidity and also straw usage by 5%. Calculations such as outlet area, inlet area and ventilation can analyse how good current buildings are and whether improvements need to be made.
We work in partnership with XLfarmcare, the delivery partner for government work, to provide all statutory services such as TB work, abortion enquiries, anthrax testing, avian influenza surveillance, suspect notifiable diseases and export work.
BVDFree England is a voluntary industry-led scheme, working to eliminate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) from all cattle in England by 2022. The key to success is to identify and remove all animals persistently infected (PI) with the BVD virus from the national English cattle herd. Joining the scheme is free and requires testing a small number of each years calf crop to check that the herd is free of BVD.
Foot Trimming & Turnover Crate
We have our own electric hydraulic turnover foot trimming crate which can be taken from farm to farm with our own pickups. This makes the trimming of feet and foot care of cattle including big bulls easier, quicker and safer.
We offer a sheep scanning service. Scanning is a vital tool for sheep farmers as it allows for:
- An early alert of a low scanning % and/or a high barren rate.
- Different management for different groups (singles vs multiple lambs).
- An opportunity to measure the condition of sheep.
If results on the day are disappointing, we can take samples on the day to identify and resolve issues quickly. Ewes can also be body condition scored as they are scanned. For more details on sheep scanning, telephone the practice on 01669 838 288.
Freeze brands are popular in many countries for extensive suckler production, as well as on British dairy farms. They:
- Can be easily read from a distance.
- Do not fall out or fade, unlike tags.
- Are the only permanent identification for cattle in the United Kingdom.
Cattle can be freeze branded as adults or when selecting replacement heifers to join the breeding herd. Cattle with thick coats can still be freeze branded – for best effect the brand can simply be clipped before calving to aid identification.
Cattle should be branded in good time – it can take up to 3 months for brands to grow out with white hair. To discuss freeze branding and pricing, just telephone the practice on 01669 838 288.
Synchronisation & Artificial Insemination
Jenny and Jack are trained (DEFRA-approved) in performing cattle AI. Black Sheep Farm Health offers a joint package for synchronisation and AI of cattle for a set fee, using a novel approach that requires handling cattle just three times.
Work by AHDB has shown that using bulls of superior genetics is worth £42 per calf. Whereas the improvement in individual calf quality is important, the greatest benefit is in tightening the calving pattern.
We will be sourcing the majority of our semen from Cogent Breeding Limited as they have an extensive collection of quality beef bulls. Jack is the practice lead for cattle reproduction and is more than happy to help choose the bull that is best suited to your farming system and production aims, based on the bulls estimated breeding values (EBV’s).
Sheep synchronisation can be a very useful husbandry tool, and some methods can also be used to make the breeding season earlier. As for cattle, synchronisation generates more even batches of lambs which are then more convenient to feed and give routine treatments too. It also tightens up the lambing period significantly (some keepers report lambing within 4 days!) meaning less money has to be spent on lambing staff. For keepers that work away from the farm, it means less annual leave has to be taken off to supervise lambing.
There are several ways of synchronising your flock – just ring the practice to discuss these with any of our vets.
We are happy to help with choosing the right heifers for your next generation of cattle. Specifically, this involves:
- Pelvic measuring
- Assessment of the uterus and ovaries
- Assessment of temperament
- Testing for infectious disease and trace element status
Bulls, rams, and billies are the cornerstone of production and it is e
ssential to know that they are at peak performance. We have all the kit to carry out on-farm testing including full physical examinations, electroejaculation and semen analysis by experienced vets.
We offer a sheep pregnancy scanning service. A proportion of ewes can be body condition scored at the same time to aid with advice on appropriate feeding.
We have all the latest ultrasound scanning technology for performing ultrasound scanning of cows at routine visits. Jenny is also a BCVA Johnes accredited veterinary advisor to cover milk buyer requirements as part of the National Johnes Management Plan.
Ration & Grazing Consulting
We take an integrated approach to nutrition and health. Rations should not only avoid nutritional disease, such as twin lamb disease or staggers, but also enable optimum health and production. Joe Henry is the practice lead for nutrition and we offer advice on:
- Ration planning and troubleshooting
- Testing livestock nutritional status
- Forage analysis
- Grazing management
- Alternative forage crops
Trace Element Testing
Trace element deficiencies can be production limiting and the local area is known to be deficient in certain trace elements. Regular testing and diagnosis of deficiencies is very important but also checking the efficacy of supplementation as failure of some products can be costly.
At Black Sheep Farm Health we’re committed to the health and welfare of all the animals under our care. While the biology of a sheep or a cow is the same regardless of farm size, we recognise that smallholders often have different aims and expectations to many farmers. Likewise, many enthusiastic smallholders find themselves wanting to do the best by their livestock, but are unsure of where to go to for guidance.
To this end, we have put together the Smallholder Scheme to provide a tailored service and build a smallholder community. For a small monthly or annual fee, you can have access to practical and proactive healthcare for your livestock. For more details on the smallholder scheme, click here. Alternatively just get in touch with Kaz on 07557 092760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this way we aim to not only improve the health and productivity of livestock on smallholdings, but also the knowledge and satisfaction of their keepers.
Jack has a background in pig breeding, rearing and showing. He can advise on pig health and diseases. There are a couple of diseases that all breeding sows on a small scale should be vaccinated against. Additionally pigs with outside access or those kept in close proximity to other livestock would benefit from vaccination against erysipelas.
Jack is happy to perform AI (artificial insemination) on your pigs and can advise on the correct timing plus help with sourcing semen.
Alpaca & Llama Medicine
We can help you to formulate a simple health plan to assist with keeping your animals in tip top condition.
These plans focus on 4 main areas:
- Purchase policy
- Preventative medicine – largely vaccines against clostridia and pneumonia
- Worm and parasite control
- Vitamin supplementation – paying particular attention to vitamin D as this is frequently low in alpacas in this country.
Jenny has a keen interest in goat work and has been heavily involved in both small pet goats and larger milking and meat goat herds and is a member of the Goat Veterinary Society.
We have also held a series of goat holder meetings, covering nutrition, infectious disease and parasites.
Gamebirds & Poultry
Our vets have experience in managing game bird health, and Joe Henry is the practice lead for gamebird and poultry medicine. Services offered include:
- On site visits
- Health Planning
- Medicated Feed Prescriptions