Where do all the flies come from?

Just look at all the flies in the straw in this calving pen. The leaked milk and calf dung which end up in the straw in the calving pen are really rich feeds for flies and so you often see a high population here. The flies also choose this environment to lay their eggs because these same rich feeds will be available to their young. Any fly programme will need to concentrate larvacidal treatments on areas like these where the larvae will be developing. If you are struggling with flies bothering your farm animals, we have some ideas which will help to reduce the flies this year, and ready for next year too. Contact us to find out more.

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Advanced Herdsperson's Course May 2014

The idea behind holding this course was simply that I had noticed that the best herdspeople seek to improve their skills with cows. They already have that "gift" which enables them to handle cattle naturally; to be able to recognise a sick cow in the distance based on a "gut feeling" rather than her level of dehydration; to spot a cow bulling just by her sniffing the air differently from usual. These are things that can't be taught and a gift which I always wish I possessed. But many herdspeople want to learn more advanced techniques and crave teaching around this subject. It occurred to me that there are things that I do every day as a vet, on which i had training at the best level and which I could effectively teach to such herdspeople in order to widen their skill-set.

So, the advanced herdsperson's course was born. Although I have taught many "bog standard" courses before, such as AI and foot trimming, I was more excited about teaching this course. I was conscious that the guys whom I was teaching were more skilled than I in their specific areas and I didn't want to teach them what they already know. I was also keen to encourage some knowledge transfer between delegates so that they could share experiences. 

I was very lucky as I had a very cool bunch of guys who all participated and also, without exception, showed great practical skills. There is nothing more rewarding than showing someone how to do something and then watching them perferct the technique almost immediately.

Thanks to all those who came along and watch this space for future similar courses.


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BVD Meeting 3 February 2014

We had a good turnout for our meeting on BVD control and eradication on Monday 3 Febraury; thanks to all those who turned out on a pretty miserable night. The take home messages were:


  • You can’t recognise a BVD persistently infected animal by just looking at it. So you can easily buy in either a persistently infected animal or a cow/heifer carrying a persistently infected calf.
  • If you vaccinate, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are protected from infection causing problems in the herd, especially if your vaccination protocol isn’t water tight.
  • The best way to know your herd’s BVD status is to take bloods from a representative group of youngstock between 9 months old and vaccination age
  • If you successfully eradicate BVD from your herd, this doesn’t mean that vaccination should be stopped because you are still at risk from outside infection.
  • Eradicating BVD on a national level is certainly possible; it has been done successfully in other European countries. This is the direction in which the UK is now heading.


We hope you enjoyed the roast dinner served afterwards by Lethbridge Arms at Bishops Lydeard and thanks to “The National BVD Control Programme” for their sponsorship of this event.

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Vitfoss Denmark Study Tour

Last week, I was fortunate to be invited by Harpers Home Mix to accompany a group of South West Dairy Farmers to Denmark  courtesey of Vitfoss to look around some farms. The trip was excellent; excellent farms, excellent company; excellent organisation; excellent food (and drink!)


We packed in 4 farms to our first of 2 full days in Denmark. If you want to see lots of photos along with commentary and stories behind each of these extraordinary businesses, have a look at our Photo Gallery (Sally's visit to Denmark).

After a very enjoyable and social evening following a packed day, we were taken, the next day, to the Vitforss headquarters where we were shown around the factory. In the aftrernoon we were shown the sister company factory JF Stoll, where I learnt an immense amount about feeder wagons!

It was a great group of farmers so thanks to them for being patient with my non-farmerness! Also, huge thanks to John Fish, Becky Anstiss, Per Thielgaard and our main host Knud Lykke Christensen of Vitfoss, aswell as Glen and Bruce from Harpers Homemix. It was a fantastic trip!

Remember to have a peek at the photos!




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Is High Production Compatible with Good Fertililty

In October, I attended the BCVA Congress in Harrogate. This was a really interactive and interesting conference which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the best lectures was from Stephen Le Blanc, on production and there a correlation and, if so, is it cause or effect? I was so fascinated by this concept that I felt the need to write an article on it! Have a look at it in this month's newsletter.

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Vet Clinical Club November

Thanks to Boehringer who sponsor our local Clinical Club meetings, last night, we had a really interactive and discussion-based talk from Owen Atkinson of Dairy Veterinay Consultancy.These meetings, which involve a few of the local practices getting together to hear a guest speaker talk about current farm/veterinary based topics, are always worth attending. I particularly enjoyed this presentation which focussed on potential models for the future of farm animal vetting. Owen based a lot of his talk on his Nuffield Scholarship and his experiences of visiting different countries. During his visits, he looked at the structure of dairy farming, the differences between dairy farming in various countries vs the UK system and, importantly, the farm veterinary industry in these countires compared to the UK.

Nobody has a crystal ball so we don't know excatlly what the future holds. However, we all agreed that the farm animal veterinay industry is about to enter a period of major change. In order to remain successful, forward-thinking practices may have to look at their business models and consider how best to develop them in order to continue bringing value to their large-herd dairy farms. This will ensure that, no matter which direction the industry is taken, the core business will remain viable and successful.

To read more on Owen's Nuffield Scholarship, see his website.

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Thousand Cow Welsh Dairy Unit gets the Go Ahead

Planning for a 1000 cow development was recently recommended for refusal in Powys, Wales for a number of reasons, one of which was "Residents’ health, including children at the local primary school."

However, the Welsh Government’s Planning Minister, Carl Sargeant, did not accept this recommendation for refusal. He said that the economic benefits outweighed the concerns. Could this be the start of some better understanding where planning departments are concerned or is it just down to one individual's balanced attitude?

Read the full article online at the Farmer's Guardian

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South West Dairy Event 2nd October

After a slow start, at which point I was wondering whether it was worth all the effort to sort out the stand, this show was busy busy busy. From 10am onwards, we were pouring cider, handing out food and persuading people into filling in our free prize draw like it was going out of fashion. In fact, by the end of the day, I realised that I hadn't left the stand at all for the whole day. But it really was great to see so many of our clients as well as industry, farmers from the South West and young people interested in farming as a career. We have now published the photos under Photo Galleries. Click to view to see if you were caught on camera!

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Evolution Girls' night out

Last Friday evening, we did something that has never before been done at Evolution.....we had a girls' night out! The reason that this is a momentous occasion is that it is the first time we have had enough girls to have a purely girls night out with no boys needed to bolster numbers! Obviously, there are some plus points to having boys with us on a night out.....such as more cider drunk more quickly; louder; messier; less opporunity to be chatted up, the list goes on!

It was a very enjoyable night out which, considering we only initially went for a pizza, turned into quite a late one. We are lucky to have a lovely bunch of people at our practice who all get along so it was a great night. Roll on September when we all go out together (boys invited this time!!)

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We've got a Facebook page - do you LIKE it?

We've got a Facebook page for the practice. It's still new to us, but we are trying to put some interesting things on it. For instance, you can see us standing aloft our vans with the Quantock Hills in the background. And you can stay updated with all the events and happenings which we will announce on there as well as on the website.

We'd love to hear your feedback, so have a look and if you can think of anything you'd like to see on there, just let us know.

Evolution Farm Vets Facebook Page

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