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Bimeda UK - Items filtered by date: March 2018

Unpredictable weather patterns could result in a high Nematodirosis risk in Spring 2018. This is why it’s vital to keep checking the Nematodirus forecast to determine if and when your lambs are at risk.

Nematodirosis is a deadly disease which can strike in young lambs. The parasite Nematodirus battus is ingested from pasture and where high burdens are present can cause severe intestinal damage resulting in profuse, watery diarrhoea and even death.

Sheep often become infected by roundworms passed from animal to animal, via the pasture, in the same grazing season. Nematodirus battus is different because it is transmitted from the lambs grazing the pasture in the previous season to those grazing in the current season. This makes it particularly difficult to control.

Following ingestion of infective larvae on the pasture they go on to develop into adult worms which can produce eggs. This takes as little as 14-21 days. These eggs then pass out in the faeces resulting in greater pasture contamination.

Nematodirus Life CycleDepending on the weather conditions these eggs will either go on to develop into infective larvae which can infect lambs immediately or they will lie dormant until the following Spring when they can infect the new crop of lambs which have never been exposed to them and so have no natural immunity.

Thankfully once lambs have been exposed they begin to develop natural immunity however nematodirus is capable of causing a great deal of damage, and even death, before this immunity develops.

When Is The Risk?

This is a disease which can be unpredictable and the high risk period does not occur at the same time every year. There are two significant factors to consider:

  1. Environmental conditions. If the weather suddenly changes from cold frosty mornings to mild, warmer spring weather this is the perfect trigger for a mass hatching of parasites on the pasture.'
  2. Lamb age/weaning. If this mass hatching occurs around the same time that lambs are beginning to consume significant amounts of grass (6-12 weeks) then the risk will be high.

What Other Risks Are There?

In addition to the two critical factors above there are others which will increase the challenge:

  • Grazing lambs on the same pasture which lambs were grazed on last Spring
  • Presence of other parasites e.g. coccidiosis
  • Other stress, triplets, fostered lambs etc.

Clinical Signs

If you observe any of the following clinical signs in lambs in Spring then contact your vet/SQP for advice:

  • Sudden onset profuse diarrhoea
  • Faecal staining of tail and perineu
  • Dull/depressed lambs
  • Lambs which stop sucking
  • Gaunt condition
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid loss of body condition
  • Lambs congregating around water to rehydrate

Why Should I Be Worried?

First and foremost nematodirus will impact on the welfare of the lambs. Nematodirosis also comes with a significant cost. If all of the risk factors come together and present a high challenge then up to 5% of the lamb crop may die. Even if you are able to avoid deaths in a nematodirus outbreak the lambs will lose condition and will take longer and cost more to finish.

Diagnosis

  • Once worms are ingested they take 2-4 weeks to begin producing eggs so faecal egg counts are not helpful for acute disease however they should be used to monitor response to treatment.
  • Presentation/clinical signs
  • Post Mortem

Treatment

SCOPS recommend that, if treatment is required, a group 1 (white/1-BZ) wormer should be used. When treating lambs weigh them and dose accurately to ensure that treatment is effective and to help protect anthelmintics from resistance. Faecal worm egg counts 7-10 days after treatment are vital for determining efficacy of the treatment.

Prevention

Monitor the parasite forecast for your region so you are ready to act at the right time and prevent acute disease. This can be accessed on the SCOPS and NADIS websites and should be checked daily during periods of high risk. Local knowledge on risk is invaluable and so you should keep in contact with your local vets and SQPs. Where possible avoid grazing lambs on the same pasture on consecutive years.


About the Author

Rachel Mallet is a Veterinary Surgeon, who now works as a Professional Services Vet providing technical support to vets, SQPs and farmers in the UK. Rachel is passionate about animal health and about promoting best practice and preventative medicine amongst farmers.

Date editorial prepared: January 2017
Use medicines responsibly. Noah.co.uk/responsible.
*Endospec 2.5% contains albendazole 25 mg, selenium (as sodium selenite) 0.27mg, cobalt (as cobalt sulphate) 0.624mg per ml.

The following active ingredients have indications for nematodirus in sheep. Please consult your SQP or vet to determine which is most appropriate and consult the SPC data sheet for further information: Albendazole, ricobendazole, oxfendazole, Fenbendazole, levamisole, moxidectin, doramectin, monepantel, derquantel/abamectin.

Reference
SCOPS. Nematodirus in Lambs Alert

Published in News

The pre-calving management period is a key time to set up the herd for calving, lactation and return to service and is vital for healthy calves. One aspect which must be considered is trace element status. We’re generally very good at realising the importance of nutrition in terms of energy requirements but we shouldn’t neglect the importance of adequate mineral status.

The trace elements with the most significance during this period are copper, iodine and selenium -partially because of their importance for healthy offspring and partially because of their role in fertility.

Iodine is integral to the thyroid hormones which increase the rate of absorption of carbohydrate from the gastrointestinal tract and control metabolism. This trace element should be a key consideration pre calving as deficiency can result in still born or weak calves which are slow to suckle.

Selenium plays a role in the immune system, fertility, muscle tissue health and iodine utilisation. Animals deficient in selenium can give birth to calves affected by white muscle disease which occurs when the muscle tissue becomes damaged and unable to function. Deficiency of selenium is also a risk factor for retained foetal membranes which can increase the time taken to get back into calf.

Copper is the trace element which gets the most attention in terms of reproduction. Copper is an essential component of a number of different enzymes which allows the animal to thrive including enzymes responsible for energy utilisation and fertility.

How Can I Tell if my Stock are Deficient?

There are a number of diagnostics available for determining the trace element status of animals. The simplest way to get a good picture is to use forage analysis in conjunction with blood samples. Imbalances should be investigated allowing plenty of time to implement any potential nutritional changes which may be required. As a result I recommend trace element blood sampling 3 months prior to calving to ensure the optimum response if supplementation is required.

Soil mineral analysis: It should be remembered that whatever is grown in that soil will selectively uptake trace elements to meet its own needs therefore it will not directly correlate with the forage which the animal will eventually consume. As such it is useful additional information if available but I would never recommend it for determining what action, if any, if required.

Water Testing: It should be remembered that water may contain antagonists which can interact with other trace elements. As a general rule mains water is not a concern but if you use a borehole supply, there is potential it could be high in antagonistic trace elements (such as iron or sulphur) which may interact with copper.

Forage mineral analysis: This is a key tool in determining the animal’s trace element status. It tells us how much trace element is available to the animal but it does not give us information about any interactions occurring between trace elements in the animal. You must also take into account any other form of supplementation which is being provided such as concentrates, bolus etc.

Trace element blood sampling: This is vital to investigate a trace element deficiency. While it may be seen as an expensive endevour to perform blood sampling, the cost of poor productivity (which can result from deficiencies or toxicities) is far more. The parameters measured will depend on what your vet determines is necessary based on history and clinical presentation of the animals. However, I would generally recommend looking at copper, iodine and selenium as a minimum in cattle.

Liver Copper: The liver is the organ which stores copper in ruminants and can give us an idea about the longer term copper status of the animal. It’s possible for vets to perform liver biopsies in live animals and you can request samples from the abattoir for monitoring.

Supplementation

Which Form Of Trace Element Supplementation Is Best?
There is an array of different forms of trace element supplementation available and it can be difficult to know which is best for your herd. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the most popular methods:

Oral Drenches
Drenches can be a cheap and convenient option however they are relatively short acting and repeated doses mean greater labour. For trace elements which cannot be stored in the body, such as cobalt or iodine, they are not appropriate to treat deficiencies, as a form of continuous supplementation must be supplied.

Free Access Systems, Such as Licks and Blocks
Where a need to supplement trace elements has been established, we need to ensure that all animals receive an amount of trace elements which is compatible with their daily requirements. Too much of a trace element can prove toxic; too little and the deficiency will not be addressed. Unfortunately, the free access lick and block systems do not provide this guarantee and an independent study highlighted that intakes between animals are extremely variable, with some consuming nothing and others consuming excessive quantities. 1 A more scientific approach to supplementation is required.

Injections
Injections can be suitable for targeted administration in conjunction with the advice of your vet. They can be appropriate where only a single trace element, such as copper or selenium is required.

In Feed Supplementation
Trace elements can be provided by the provision of TMR, concentrates or bag minerals.
Often these are specified based on ‘averages’ or ‘common requirements’ as opposed to being based on what has been determined is deficient and required on farm. Ideally these mixes should be prepared based on an investigation in to the animals’ trace element status and requirements. This method can add significantly to the cost of production and can be difficult for extensively managed cattle.

Trace Element Boluses
Boluses provide an convenient, cost-effective and controlled method of trace element supplementation. Bimeda soluble glass bolus CoseIcure cattles provides exactly the same amount of copper, cobalt, selenium and iodine every single day for up to 6 months in cattle.. This means there are no variable intakes and no variation between animals. The continuous, controlled release of the bolus is particularly important for animals requiring cobalt and iodine which cannot be stored in the body and therefore a daily supply is required. Their long-lasting nature is also highly convenient and reduces labour costs as regular bolusing is not required.

Key Points:

  • Blood testing in conjunction with forage analysis in the simplest way to obtain information on the animals trace element status
  • Deficiency of trace elements can cause poor productivity but there are many other causes which your vet may advise you also investigate
  • Over supplementation does not improve productivity and can be dangerous, particularly where selenium and copper are concerned.
  • Establish the need before supplementing with trace elements

CoseIcure cattle bolus contains copper, cobalt, selenium and iodine and lasts up to 6 months in cattle.
Before supplementing trace elements, particularly copper and selenium which can be toxic, it is recommended that you seek advice from a vet or nutritionist.

About the Author

Rachel Mallet is a Veterinary Surgeon, who now works as a Professional Services Vet providing technical support to vets, SQPs and farmers in the UK. Rachel is passionate about animal health and about promoting best practice and preventative medicine amongst farmers.

References
1. McDowell, 1992

Published in News