Snow may be fun but it also makes life difficult

Well the snow the weathermen predicted has arrived. This is great for children – time off school, sledging and building snowmen.

For all us at Robson and Prescott, it makes life a little more complicated.

Many people are worried about their pets and in some cases are struggling to get them in to us.

Our nurses and pet ambulance have been extremely busy visiting and collecting patients.

Our farmers are extremely busy in the snow too. All their livestock needs hay and silage bales taken out to the fields as the snow is getting so deep they are unable to forage under the snow.

The water troughs and pipes are all freezing, creating hours of extra work in the already impossible weather.

Horses, however, are probably all enjoying being inside – apart from a few hardy native breeds that will be braving the weather.

Despite all the extra work created with the weather, many of our farmers managed to find time to come to the practice last week to attend a meeting about lameness in sheep.

In our new premises at the top of the Whorral Bank, we have erected a purpose-built meeting room that holds 50-60 people.

We have used this several times since we have moved and are planning a series of talks and demonstrations in 2013 covering a whole range of topics relevant to our small animal, equine and farm clients.

Lameness in sheep is a major problem in the UK with 10 per cent of the national flock being affected at any one time.

The bacteria that causes the majority of problems lives on pastures for 10-14 days and so it is not just a case of treating individual sheep but treatments must be carried out on a whole flock basis.

With the emphasis in veterinary medicine being to reduce the use of antibiotics in our farm animals, we are encouraging a move to vaccination to reduce a lameness levels in sheep.

Our meeting was well attended and included a 45-minute presentation, a spot of lunch (the highlight for our farmers!) and a practical session where we examined some lame sheep and discussed treatments.

Farmers traditionally spend hours and hours trimming sheep’s feet to remove overgrowths and correct any problems.

We are trying to encourage a move to only trimming the feet of sheep if they are lame.

However, changing any practices in our farmers often takes a long time ... sometimes a generation!

We hope that this move to vaccination and only corrective trimming will help reduce the levels of lameness in our sheep, improving animal welfare and also reducing our farmers’ workload.

We will be holding a series of meetings throughout the year and will keep you informed of when these are happening.

They will be open to all our clients and non-clients alike.

Director and senior vet Kate Matheson,

Robson & Prescott