Buzzing socialites that we are,
today was a chance for another off-the-Ffarm adventure: this time, our first visit to the annual Dairy Event which is held at the Royal Showground, Stoneleigh in Warwickshire.
The day began extremely early with pre-dawn management of all the animals & poultry (in fact the grumpy chickens unsurprisingly refused to budge from their roost!). Then came the long drive to Warwickshire, which seemed to take forever; even though it was only around four hours.
After dropping off a couple of napolis of their favourite flavours of gelato with Mum & Dad in Kenilworth, we hurried over to Stoneleigh – tentatively bathed in sunshine albeit cool of temperature – where we immediately headed for the Goat Display. There we caught up with Dreda & Emy Randall over a much-needed cuppa, before settling down to listen to a few of the fascinating lectures covering subjects such as caprine nutrition, managing a commercal herd, Artificial Insemination & rearing kids successfully. That particular lecture was given by our friend, mentor & ‘Goat Guru’ Dreda, pictured in action below:
But perhaps the most important part of the day, was the lecture from the Goat Veterinary Society regarding the BLUETONGUE VIRUS. Much of this information was salient for all ruminant species; so readers, please, take heed…..
For a start – BTV VACCINATION RUMOURS PUT TO REST:
“The BTV8 Vaccine will render my Stud Male/females infertile”.
If like us, you can only just get your hands on the vaccine, fear not; your Stud Male (regardless of species) will already have a couple of months’ semen stored in his sac (aka ‘the Bank’). And there’s absolutely NO evidence to suggest that females won’t ‘take’ owing to the vaccine….as with any other routine treatment, just don’t stress them out whilst administering the vaccination itself.
However if you don’t vaccinate & your livestock do contract BTV8, the likelihood is your animals will be rendered infertile & milk production will permanently, be drastically reduced. And as vaccination isn’t compulsory in the UK if your animals do contract the virus you will NOT receive compensation from the Government: your responsibility, your risk.
“Vaccinating with BTV8 causes (at worst) abortion storms & (at best) individual abortions.”
There’s certainly no concrete evidence of this in the UK. Some countries use a ‘live’ vaccine which may present an additional risk; however in the UK a ‘dead’ vaccine is administered which is deemed far safer. Nations where abortion has been reported shortly after vaccination has either been attributed to possibly using a ‘live’ vaccine; or for other coincidental causes, such as poor herd mangement.
However if you do not vaccinate, & your animals fall pregnant, it may trigger an abortion storm; or those offspring carried to full term may be born dead or themselves prove infertile.
The overwhelming message is….
Please, PLEASE, VACCINATE ALL YOUR LIVESTOCK AGAINST THIS DREADFUL DISEASE – ASAP.
The eminent Veterinary Surgeon who chatted to us today was a canny chap: genial, but delivering a direct, no-nonsense, knowledgeable message packed with clearly-stated, fundamental information to help livestock keepers weigh up the pros & cons of vaccination.
He confirmed that for goats, two vaccinations are needed as the caprine immune system is not as well developed as that of other farm animals; possibly because the goat is a browser, not a grazer. The make of the vaccine depends on the interval between the two inoculations: three weeks for the Intervet jabs & four for the Merial.
For the initial course of vaccination the two types cannot be mixed & matched – only use either Intervet or Merial as otherwise the vaccine will be ineffective. However, when administering subsequent boosters (which will probably be required at six-monthly intervals although this is yet to be confirmed) either type can be administered. Also, other vaccinations such as Lambivac or Heptavac should not be given simultaneously with the BTV8 serum – there must be a fortnight’s interval between the two. regardless, all livestock keepers are advised to administer a booster in the Spring which will enhance the animals’ immune response in readiness for the midge season.
And then of course, we were told the grim news that a new strain – BTV1 – is on its’ way…for which a vaccine has not yet been developed. The current spread suggests that it shouldn’t reach the UK until 2011; but if it comes here, via an imported animal? Who knows. Certainly a lot of livestock keepers are unhappy that we are still apparently importing either unvaccinated animals, or ones which were injected prior to leaving their country of origin without first being quarantined to ensure the jab had taken effect. It does seem akin to lunacy….
Because certainly, ALL stock should be vaccinated: even those which will be going into the food chain before long (there’s no meat or milk withdrawal for either serotype). If in the interim one animal gets bitten by an infected midge & catches the disease, it’ll pass it on if it’s bitten by non-carrying midges & therefore could affect your neighbours’ livestock – it’s a case of collective responsibility & the only way we’ll eliminate this dread disease.
After waving goodbye to Dreda we called in for dinner with Mum & Dad. After a starter of venison paté Dad served duck breast with potato shells, mixed vegetables & warm cherry sauce; followed by a sumptuously creamy roulade & washed down with a robust red wine. It was wonderful to see them again, in such good health & – thankfully – relatively high spirits considering it is so close to the anniversary of Melissa’s death.
And at long last, her headstone is finally being carved from a piece of Cornish slate & should soon mark her eternal resting place beneath the tree, beside the river in a quiet corner of the pretty little village where she lived.
Tony tackled the long drive home through the darkness; & we arrived back at the farm at around midnight. We had intended to leave the animals asleep & just quietly close the doors to the poultry arks & the kids’ stables; however the ladies in the Dairy Complex heard our arrival & immediately demanded a midnight feast. Exhausted, we finally finished the chores at around 01:30 – the end of a long but fulfilling day.