Rain risking livestock health

The North of England is suffering from a distinct lack of summer with Northumberland receiving June's average monthly rainfall within a matter of days. Thousands of sheep are yet to be shorn; the silage is yet to be cut and of great concern is the health of farm animals that is being compromised by the continual wet.
The North of England is suffering from a distinct lack of summer with Northumberland receiving June's average monthly rainfall within a matter of days. Thousands of sheep are yet to be shorn; the silage is yet to be cut and of great concern is the health of farm animals that is being compromised by the continual wet.

The Borders and north Northumberland are suffering from a distinct lack of summer with the area receiving June’s average monthly rainfall within a matter of days.

Thousands of sheep are yet to be shorn, silage is yet to be cut and of great concern is the health of farm animals that is being compromised by the continual wet.

John Macfarlane of Alnorthumbria Veterinary Group said: “The weather has resulted in a resurgence in worm problems which are causing a serious problem, especially in lambs.

“The wet weather has a concertina effect – the farmers need dry weather for clipping the sheep and the combination of a full fleece, worm problems and warm weather is leading to fly strike. This is compounded by a noticeable increase in resistance to worm treatments on a number of farms.”

General management on the farm at this time of the year is crucial in preparing for winter. People are unable to dry silage to produce winter forage so there are concerns that farmers may end up short over this coming winter.

The recent downpours caused significant flash flooding. Alnorthumbria have not heard of any animals being drowned, but hundreds were not so lucky two years ago when the Till flooded. Farmwork is being compressed and contractors are under heavy demand as where there is a sunny day there are far too many jobs to be done.

Another effect of the long term wet weather may be rumen fluke in cattle. Earlier this year Alnorthumbria vets identified it in cattle on a farms. They are now collaborating with Edinburgh Veterinary School and Morden Institute.

Rumen fluke is a parasite that is ingested by the cattle grazing on previously waterlogged pastures.

John said: “The presenting signs are scour in late summer in young stock and we will be asking clients if we can check for this disease on their farms – this is an exotic disease found sporadically around the UK.”

The current weather poses a lot of challenges for farmers’ grassland management.

“Though last winter was kind to us until the beginning of lambing, and the grass has been growing, grazing conditions are very difficult. We can only hope that July and August see some more sunshine and that the animal health problems seen in the last few weeks decline,” John said.