Sal­mo­nella spreads

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By LAURA MCLEAY

Mata­mata vets are warn­ing dairy farm­ers who use in- shed meal feed­ers to vac­ci­nate their herds against sal­mo­nella af­ter an epi­demic has hit the re­gion hard this sea­son.

Farm­ers who have had sal­mo­nella – a bac­te­ria of­ten spread by birds and ro­dents con­tam­i­nat­ing meal – rip through their herds have en­coun­tered a se­vere loss of pro­duc­tion and in some cases, death of their stock.

Dairy vet Ar­jan de Wilde from Land­mark Vets said he had never seen an out­break of sal­mo­nella as bad as this. At Land­mark Vets alone they have had about 10 se­ri­ous cases this year with up to a third of the herd af­fected some­times and most other vets con­tacted by the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle had sim­i­lar sta­tis­tics.

‘‘From my clinic all the peo­ple who have had sal­mo­nella have meal feed­ers in their sheds which birds get into, so I rec­om­mend farm­ers with them vac­ci­nate their cows,’’ he said.

‘‘It is not ex­pen­sive – you can’t af­ford not to vac­ci­nate be­cause the pro­duc­tion loss is huge.

‘‘I know one farmer who lost 33 per cent of their daily milk in a day – it is mas­sive losses when you think what the milk is worth this year with the pay­out.’’

Most vets gen­er­ally charge less than $2 a cow for the vac­ci­na­tion de­pend­ing on the ser­vices re­quired.

The vac­ci­na­tion is done in two parts with an ini­tial shot and a booster shot a month later.

But if the bug is caught, Ti­rau Vet­eri­nary Ser­vices dairy vet Re­gan Ger­ring said early de­tec­tion of symp­toms and iso­la­tion of the cat­tle was the key to sav­ing as many as pos­si­ble.

‘‘The first sign of sal­mo­nella is that a cow is off her milk and is scour­ing, of­ten with a wa­tery and dis­tinctly un­pleas­ant odour,’’ he said. ‘‘Symp­toms from that can de­velop into a high tem­per­a­ture, sunken eyes and slow to move.’’

He added that with early treat­ment there was a pretty good sur­vival rate by us­ing an­tibi­otics and elec­trolytes if the cows were de­hy­drated.

Mr Ger­ring said it was also vi­tal that staff wear gloves and keep farm equip­ment clean to pro­tect peo­ple from catch­ing it.

‘‘It is a dis­tress­ing time for the farm­ers see­ing all their cows sick and pour­ing the milk down the drain but staff are just as im­por­tant,’’ he said.

Ti­rau farm­ers Leigh and Kura Fal­leni, who also have in-shed meal feed­ers, had sal­mo­nella spread through their 540 cows at the end of calv­ing this year.

‘‘Our hearts dropped too think what else might hap­pen,’’ Mrs Fal­leni said af­ter the first few cows died.

A lot more did hap­pen. Not only did they have eight cows die but it cost nearly $10,000 for an­tibi­otic treat­ments, their pro­duc­tion low­ered dras­ti­cally and to top it off, Mrs Fal­leni caught sal­mo­nella from the herd and was bedrid­den for a cou­ple of weeks.

Mr Fal­leni said when he first no­ticed a cow was off her milk and by the next day had de­te­ri­o­rated rapidly, he called the vet. ‘‘Af­ter about three days I had 14 cows sick,’’ he said. ‘‘Af­ter that we were pulling out 12 to 14 cows a night from the herd for an­tibi­otic treat­ment. We had more than 70 cows sick by the time it started to slow down.’’

Herd treat­ment in­cluded a 50ml in­jec­tion of Te­tra­guard and scour ban drench to pre­vent de­hy­dra­tion.

‘‘It was a very labour in­ten­sive and stress­ful time. It is not nice watch­ing your cows get sick,’’ he said.

He said they had no­ticed a lot of geese this sea­son and won­dered if they played a part in his herd catch­ing the bug which is of­ten car­ried by birds.

Pro­duc­tion is back to nor­mal now and the cou­ple are do­ing all they can to pre­vent a re­cur­rence by vac­ci­nat­ing. They warn oth­ers to do the same. ‘‘It isn’t worth not vac­ci­nat­ing,’’ Mr Fal­leni said.

Epi­demic: This sea­son has not been easy for dairy farm­ers Kura and Leigh Fal­leni.

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