Journal news

Giving calcium can boost lambing results

A trick borrowed from dairy farmers – giving an oral calcium supplement at the onset of labour – can help ewes and lead to fewer dead or orphaned lambs, according to Flor Ryan, a sheep specialist with Animax. His advice is based on his experience with his own Texel flock.

Ewes, like dairy cows, can become calcium deficient in the hour or so before giving birth, he said: ‘Unlike cows, which may become recumbent and die from acute milk fever, the condition in sheep is usually subclinical and hard to spot. The typical consequence is delayed onset then slow labour.’

Other factors that make calcium supplementation advisable include ewes carrying twins or triplets, being too fat or thin, older ewes and those with a difficult previous lambing.

One dose of Animax’s Easycal provides 14 to 18 g of easily absorbed calcium over 12 to 15 hours, the company says....

Categories: Journal news

Bovine TB infection status in cattle inGreat Britain in 2018

Key points

  • In Great Britain (GB), the herd incidence of bovine TB decreased in 2018 to its lowest level since 2014. Approximately eight new incidents of TB were detected for every 100 herds that underwent a full year of surveillance in 2018, compared to 9.4 in 2017 and 7.7 in 2014.

  • There was substantial variation across GB at country, surveillance risk area and county level. Differences in surveillance and control policies make it inappropriate to directly compare TB in cattle between the countries of GB and therefore these are best considered separately.

  • Scotland remained Officially TB Free, with 36 incidents (0.7 TB incidents per 100 herd-years at risk [HYR]) detected. This was a slight decrease on 2017 (40 incidents, 0.9 incidents per 100 HYR).

  • There has been a steady decline in TB incidence in Wales since 2012, and, overall, in 2018 seven incidents of TB...

  • Categories: Journal news

    Harnessing technology to control lameness in sheep

    Lameness is a significant production-limiting health issue in the sheep industry and is thought to account for between £24 million and £84 million in lost income each year in the UK.1 It is also considered to substantially impair the welfare of affected animals.2,3

    In 2004, the estimated incidence of lameness in the UK national flock was approximately 10 per cent,4 with 90 per cent of cases being attributable to footrot. In 2011, the Farm Animal Welfare Council set targets to reduce the incidence of lameness in sheep to 5 per cent by 2016 and to 2 per cent by 2021.5 Subsequently, the recommended on-farm control measures for footrot were revised based on expanding knowledge of the aetiology and epidemiology of footrot in sheep,6 with Dichelobacter nodosus now recognised as the causative agent of this disease.7

    Categories: Journal news

    Environmental and field characteristics associated with lameness in sheep: a study using a smartphone lameness app for data recording


    Sheep lameness is a major concern among farmers and policymakers with significant impacts on animal welfare standards as well as financial and production performance. The present study attempts to identify the relative importance of environmental and farm-level management characteristics on sheep lameness.


    To address this objective, data were derived from the SPiLaMM project from 18 farms that used smartphone app to collect data, the British Geological Survey and the Meteorological Office over 2016–2018. Data were analysed using a multilevel Poisson regression model.


    Temperature and higher length of pasture had a positive relationship with lameness while concentration of Selenium in soil and flock size had a negative relationship with lameness. In addition, results showed lower lameness levels for the bedrock class mudstone, siltstone, limestone and sandstone in comparison to sandstone and finally, lambs and ewes younger than 1year old had lower levels of lameness than older ewes.


    Findings of the present approach show the potential use of data collected via a smartphone app to study the epidemiology of disease. Furthermore, factors identified could be validated in intervention studies and generate data-driven disease predictive models.

    Categories: Journal news

    Getting a grip: cats respond negatively to scruffing and clips

    Use of scruffing and scruffing tools (eg, clipnosis clips) to immobilise cats is contentious, and cat handling guidelines vary in recommendations regarding these techniques. The current study examined whether cats show negative responses to the following restraint methods: (1) scruff (n=17), (2) clip application to the dorsal neck skin (n=16) and (3) full body (a known negative; n=19). Each cat was also handled with passive restraint (control) for comparison. During handling, cats were examined for behavioural (side/back ear positions, vocalisations, lip licking) and physiological (pupil dilation ratio, respiratory rate) responses. Full-body restrained cats showed more negative responses than passively restrained cats (respiratory rate: p=0.006, F3,37=4.31, p=0.01; ear p=0.002, F3,49=6.70, p=0.0007; pupil: p=0.007, F3,95=14.24, p=0.004; vocalisations: p=0.009, F3,49=4.85, p=0.005) and scruff-restrained cats (pupil: p=0.009; vocalisations: p=0.04). Clip restraint resulted in more negative responses than passive (pupil: p=0.01; vocalisations: p=0.007, ear p=0.02) and scruff restraint (pupil p=0.01; vocalisations: p=0.02). No differences were detected between full-body restraint, known to be aversive, and clip restraint. Full-body restraint and clip restraint resulted in the greatest number of negative responses, scruffing resulted in fewer negative responses and passive restraint showed the least number of responses. We therefore recommend against the use of full-body and clip restraint, and suggest that scruff restraint should be avoided when possible.

    Categories: Journal news

    Challenging identity: development of a measure of veterinary career motivations


    While little is known about the motivations underpinning veterinary work, previous literature has suggested that the main influences on veterinary career choice are early/formative exposure to animals or veterinary role models. The aim of this study was to develop and provisionally validate a veterinary career motivations questionnaire to assess the strength of various types of career motivations in graduating and experienced veterinarians.


    A cross-sectional sample of experienced veterinarians (n=305) and a smaller cohort of newly graduated veterinarians (n=53) were surveyed online using a long-form questionnaire. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used to iteratively derive a final, short-form questionnaire for survey of a second cross-sectional sample of experienced veterinarians (n=751).


    EFA derived a final questionnaire with 22 items loading onto six factors (social purpose, animal orientation, vocational identity, challenge and learning, career affordances, and people orientation). While motivations based on animal orientation were predictably strong, those based on vocational identity were not universal and were weaker in younger and graduate veterinarians; both of these motivations were rated lower by male veterinarians. Motivations based on challenge and learning emerged as some of the strongest, most universal and most influential; people orientation and social purpose were also important, particularly for older veterinarians.


    The major motivations for pursuing a veterinary career may best be represented as an intrinsic passion for animal care and for learning through solving varied challenges. These motivations are largely intrinsically oriented and autonomously regulated, thus likely to be supportive of work satisfaction and wellbeing.

    Categories: Journal news

    Selected highlights from other journals

    Lyssavirus prevalence in bats can be estimated using faecal samples

    L. Begeman, E. A. Kooi, E. van Weezep and others

    Zoonoses and Public Health (2020) 67, 198–202

    doi: 10.1111/zph.12672

    • What did the research find?

    PCR detection of lyssavirus infection using faecal pellet samples was nearly as sensitive (six of seven infected bats identified) as that using oral swabs (all seven bats identified as positive). Evidence of lyssavirus infection in the salivary gland and tongue suggests that these tissues were the likely sources of lyssavirus RNA in the six positive faecal samples. Despite detection of lyssavirus RNA, the virus could not be isolated from any of the faecal samples, suggesting they did not contain infectious lyssavirus.

    • How was it conducted?

    Faecal pellets, oral swabs and tissue samples from the brain, salivary gland, tongue and intestine were collected from the carcases of seven serotine bats (Eptesicus serotinus) that died...

    Categories: Journal news

    Possible method for the production of a Covid-19 vaccine

    Over a number of years we worked on genetically transformed Pasteurella multocida vaccines, experimenting on whether they could provide protection against a variety of animal and avian virus diseases. We think the methodology has potential for a Covid-19 vaccine.

    The practical work was carried out in Myanmar, and at the time, there was a suggestion that the method could be of value in developing countries, especially in an emergency. It required only fairly basic laboratory facilities, could be rapidly set up and was relatively inexpensive (a patent application for the method was made in early 2007, but although there were discussions with pharmaceutical companies and academia to progress its production, none eventually took this up).

    The proposed steps are set out in Fig 1. When mixed with cell lysates of virus-infected tissues, P multocida took up free viral genes and incorporated them into its genome. Genetically transformed...

    Categories: Journal news

    Can companion animals become infected with Covid-19?

    The veterinary community has been following the evolution of the global pandemic of Covid-19 to identify risks to animals and possible zoonotic transmission. With some exceptions, most coronavirus (CoV) infections in domestic animals are predominantly associated with gastrointestinal disease. Their genetic diversity and variety of hosts are likely to be connected to their high mutation frequency and their RNA instability.1, 2 This makes CoVs a public health concern with future outbreaks being predicted.1

    On 28 February 2020 the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of Hong Kong released a statement that a dog had tested positive to the SARS-CoV-2.3 That statement raised many questions from clients and colleagues about how potential pet infections could affect us, not only here in Hong Kong but also, worldwide.

    The case was a 17-year-old Pomeranian dog, which had multiple comorbidities, and was referred to the...

    Categories: Journal news

    Ensuring animal welfare during Covid-19 pandemic

    The RCVS is providing useful advice for veterinary practitioners in the current coronavirus pandemic.

    However, I feel strongly that we, as veterinary professionals, must recognise the threats to animal welfare that would arise from animal owners being required to self isolate or be in quarantine.

    It is reassuring that at present ‘social distancing’ allows dog walking and horse riding. It is essential that ‘tending to animals’ should be recognised and clearly stated to be a valid reason for leaving one’s home.

    I was alarmed and disappointed that ‘animal welfare’ was not mentioned in media coverage of lockdown in other countries, while ‘obtaining food, medicines and some work activities’ were recognised as valid reasons for going out.

    ‘Tending to animals’ could include a wide range of activities – not only exercising dogs and horses but feeding and checking other species housed outdoors and possibly not on one’s own premises. Owners...

    Categories: Journal news

    Providing support should feel human

    There is thankfully more awareness around supporting newly graduated vets than ever before. In job adverts, most practices add at least a reference to support, ranging from, the old classic, ‘supportive environment’ to more detailed descriptions of the support that’s on offer with the role. But, no matter how grand these claims might be, it’s important to remember there’s a difference between practices claiming to offer support and actually providing it, and sometimes spotting the difference is harder than you’d think.

    A friend of mine worked at a practice that on paper looked very supportive. At her interview she was offered a mentorship programme, seemingly endless appraisals and enrolment onto as many new graduate schemes as she wanted. However, six months into the job she was left disappointed, feeling that these formalised support avenues, although well intentioned, had ended up feeling more like a box ticking exercise, lacking in...

    Categories: Journal news

    Fracture repair in companion animal practice

    This is an excellent reference for first-opinion vets who have an interest in orthopaedics. Its focus is not just on repair techniques, but it provides a good introduction to how a fracture should be described and classified, as well as the comorbidities to consider before approaching a fracture. The section on postoperative care is detailed – a consideration that is often lacking in other texts.

    Implant selection offers guidelines on using the appropriately sized pins, plates and so on, as well as the pros and cons of various instruments (for example, autoclavable versus non-autoclavable drills).

    The book’s techniques are often illustrated with coloured photographs showing the steps taken to get a good outcome following a fracture repair.

    Each type of fracture is broken down and covers the treatment of choice, postoperative management and prognosis, as well as options should the ideal repair not be possible. Potential complications are also...

    Categories: Journal news

    Formulary for zoo and wild animal vets

    Reviewed by zoo and wildlife consultant Sarah Chapman

    NOT long ago, it was common to have to trawl through research papers and email streams when investigating the possible use of a new drug for some exotic species – while a zookeeper stood nearby tapping their foot waiting to hear how their animal would be treated. So, to have a summary of all the dosages and information on the safety of the drugs we use in exotic mammals is very useful.

    The book is a practical size and its tabular format makes it easy to use. It covers all exotic mammals that are kept in captivity, including the commonly kept species, as well as more unusual or rarely kept animals. There are 28 chapters covering everything from armadillos to zebras, and over 35 mammal groups.

    Each chapter includes authoritative dosing information, with tables of antimicrobials, analgesia, anaesthesia and sedation, parasiticides...

    Categories: Journal news

    Gareth Beynon Rees

    A highly respected clinician who worked in large animal practice before he joined the state veterinary service as a veterinary officer. He was caring and sympathetic towards animals and people.

    Categories: Journal news
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