Feeling the pulse - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Feeling the pulse

RICHARD GARD gets the feel of things at the huge Bath & West Show

THE Bath & West Show attracted over 150,000 visitors, which is surprising considering the very heavy rain. Most of the Somerset land was a quagmire and extensive flooding even made the national news. There was no issue with bluetongue and a full array of livestock attended with a class for Beef Shorthorns for the first time.

The organisers claim that the event is now the biggest pig show in the country and there was also the “largest gathering of alpacas in the UK”. A Guernsey was best in show, which pleased the breed society members as many could not remember the last time a Guernsey triumphed. An Irish Setter was crowned best of the 1,000 dogs on parade.

The South West Dairy Farmer of the Year competition is currently taking place and the winner will be announced at a dinner preceding the South West Dairy Show in October. The veterinary surgeon adviser or consultant to the winning dairyman will also receive an award of, I understand, a trip to the BCVA congress in Killarney from 13th to 15th November.

For further information contact Peter Clark (peteratcrowlink@yahoo. co.uk). Peter was on veterinary duty at the Bath & West Show and is one of the judges for the competition. He was last seen heading towards the otters and away from the wolves.

Also in attendance was Roger Eddy, looking somewhat perplexed at a concourse road junction. Roger has been involved for many years with this prestigious show and having completed his formal duties was trying to locate the Ecocentre, but he couldn’t find a map in the catalogue. No doubt he was successful in his quest and it may be that colleagues will notice a significant reduction in his carbon footprint in the near future.

Biodegradable glasses are now available at shows, typically for beer and cider.

Manufactured from maize, lactic acid is fermented to produce a polymer of polylactic acid, which can be composted. With silage making in full swing it would be interesting if silage wrap could be biodegradable, so reducing the cost of disposal. One of the difficulties is adding an agent to provide the cling film effect so that the bale sheets stick to one another when being wrapped. It may be that the old silage bag will make a degradable comeback.

Badgers

Various observations have been received following the “listening to the badger men” article in the June issue. It would appear that some people have had unfortunate experiences following close contact with badgers. In attending to a callout from a small animal client, one vet was presented with a badger in a distressed state against a garage door.

The badger was caught in an improvised noose and an injection prepared and, wisely, the veterinary surgeon recommended that local residents keep back, whereupon the badger revived itself sufficiently to spin round “with the speed of light” and rip open the vet’s thumb. The badger was then dealt with in a professional manner, the vet went to hospital and, I am told, carried out three calvings with one arm as he was on call that night.

Husband and wife clients found a badger beside the road and believed it to be dead but took it to the veterinary practice by placing it in the passenger footwell of their expensive car. On the way the badger revived and on arriving at the surgery the couple insisted that someone remove the badger with force as it had urinated and dunged all over the interior, as well as frightening the couple somewhat. It is not clear whether the practice charged a fee.

There have been observations concerning some research on the efficiency of diesel or petrol engines to gas badgers and it appears to be proven that petrol is more humane. Some of the setts are in places that would be difficult to access by a 4×4 and the use of portable engines has been suggested as a possibility. A ruling on whether local action can be taken to control badger populations within a TB area is awaited and the Welsh discussions and likely recommendations are expected to offer a way forward.

One of the key points of interest is whether healthy badgers do drive out unhealthy badgers from the sett, as indicated by the badger men, and whether badger patrolling of setts deters unhealthy badgers from entering the sett territory.

Question to be answered

Furthermore, if a badger is behaving abnormally because of a disease like pneumonia and the sett is gassed, is there a benefit for the farmer? These and other points can be discussed further with the badger men but the question that they will be unable to answer is whether TB is passed from badger to cattle by healthy badgers that may be infectious but not suffering disease and therefore behaving normally.

The Family Farmers’ Association is again raising concerns about the impact of TB testing and controls on their members. There is also concern about the use of gamma interferon to detect more cattle without stronger measures to limit new infections.

Some members feel that the worry of disease in family-run herds can be as damaging as the disease itself. Worries have been highlighted also about the future cost-sharing burden for animal health support.

The association has a new lease of life with new committee members but no one directly linked to veterinary issues. The next meeting of the FFA is on 9th July at 2pm at the Houses of Parliament. Visitors are welcome and full details are available from Pippa Woods: telephone 01548 852794.

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