The importance of diagnostic testing

Getting the correct diagnosis is an important part of herd health. This is both when investigating disease outbreaks or when monitoring herd performance. Below are just some of the diagnostic tests we have available at the Vet Group. Have a read and talk to one of our vets if you would like more information!

In-house faecal egg counts

Faecal egg counts can tell us if worms are the cause of scouring in calves, heifers and/or cows. But they can also be used to monitor worm levels to help decide if drenching is warranted. With the new system that we have in our clinics, results are usually back within a day.

In-house mastitis milk cultures

Mastitis can be frustrating – both when there’s an increase in clinical cases or when subclinical cases lead to a high bulk milk cell count (BMCC). Our in-house milk cultures are affordable and have a quick turnaround. Collecting and testing milk samples from multiple individual cows diagnoses the cause and gives us an idea of which treatments are likely to be successful. Just as importantly, the results can help focus where to put efforts into preventing new infections. The picture below shows the intepretation of two different mastitis samples.

Bulk milk pestivirus levels

In dairy herds we’re lucky in that Pestivirus (aka BVDV) is easy to monitor. For farms that buy in cattle or have neighbours with cattle, knowing their pestivirus status is an important part of a biosecurity plan. Milk samples are taken from the bulk vat and sent away to assess the antibody level of the herd – that is, how much exposure they’ve had to BVDV. We can also identify  whether there is an infected animal (aka a “PI”) in the herd that is a source of infection to other animals.

Liver copper levels

In the last couple of years, we have seen cases of copper deficiency in heifers where animals are presenting with broken legs. Taking liver samples is the best way to assess the body’s copper levels. Testing at the start of winter (prior to the risk period for copper deficiency) will help identify whether a deficiency is likely to occur, and preventative treatments, such as administration of rumen bullets, can be undertaken 

Colostral antibody levels

Calves are born without antibodies and need to ingest and absorb those that are present in colostrum. Without colostral antibodies, calves are more likely to get sick and more likely to die. It is relatively easy to monitor the success of colostrum feeding and identify whether any improvements need to be made. We take blood samples from 2-7 day old calves and measure the amount of antibodies present – with results available that day.

Faecal culture

Diarrhoea in calves, heifers and cows is a common and frustrating disease on farm. Faecal samples will tell us if the cause is a virus, bacteria, protozoa and/or parasite. This information then helps us choose the most effective treatments and which vaccinations may be required. We have kits and instructions for taking faecal samples from calves available at our clinics.

The Vet Group – here to help diagnose, treat and prevent disease in your herd

By |2021-03-29T06:29:19+11:00March 28th, 2021|Categories: General Health|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

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