With silage season followed quickly by summer holidays, animals on out-farms could often get skipped for daily herding.

However, early identification and treatment can save a lot of hassle and animal performance so daily herding is crucial on dairy farms.

Here are some of the issues that crop up regularly on dairy farms.

1 Summer mastitis

Summer mastitis can be serious if not treated quickly in any dairy animal. Treating heifers, dry cows and even milking cows for flystrike is crucial.

Flies increase the risk of summer mastitis as they spread the bacteria. It can often result in the loss of a quarter.

The easy method of prevention is a pour-on which will cover the animal for up to four weeks.

Fly tags are another option. I still meet farmers who use products like Stockholm tar on heifers and dry cows to create a barrier between the cow and the flies.

It’s messy and often not easy to apply unless you have a lot of help and it’s necessary to keep the tar on the animals so you need to apply it fairly regularly.

This is not always possible on out-farms, where proper handling facilities are not always available.

You should always attempt to keep tails clean and keep the muck level low around gaps etc.

For dry cows, a combination of long-acting antibiotics and teat sealer is the best option.

2 Dosing calves

Kieran Mailey goes into summer dosing on on p47 but needless to say, most farmers have started the routine summer dosing for worms and keeping up the routine is important. Write down when calves are dosed. Group calves into age groups so that weight is similar and hence dosing volumes are similar. Weigh a few calves (the heavy and light) if you can to help adjust your eye.

3 Summer calf blindness

With a delayed silage season, aftergrass will be late on the menu for many calves. However, when it does become available, the change in the gut microflora for calves on lush grass can often lead to what vets call non-contagious metabolic meningitis. The clinical signs are calves that appear a bit dull or disinterested and often stand away from other calves. They can lose sight and in extreme cases can lose balance. If spotted and treated quickly it can be overcome. Core to treatment is a vitamin B1 injection.

4 Copper coats on calves

Every summer we get queries on calves showing brown or copper coats. It’s strongly related to molybendum and sulphur in the diet. Brown coats are a clinical sign of copper deficiency. It varies significantly between farms. Copper can be supplemented in feed but it is important to remember that too much copper is a bad thing also and can affect weight gain.

5 Herd fertility

Don’t forget about breeding after the first six weeks are completed. You need to keep the pressure on to get cows submitted and hopefully in calf.

Any treatment is better done early rather than late. There’s no point in spending money on treating cows to have them calving next May.

If treating to bring them into heat or scanning to check what’s in calf then it’s better to do it early when you can do something about it rather than wait until there is nothing you can do. Often making sure the stock bull is working is as important in the summer.