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Are your Cows “FED” up? – Caithness. Event summary

28 September 2017

There was a good representation of local Caithness farmers and crofters, with over 30 people attending. The host farmer gave the attendees a brief introduction to the farm before they were split into groups to visit four stations to discuss livestock feeding & health and farm diversification options.

Fluke Control Strategies

Ken Wilson From local veterinary surgeons, D S MacGregor & Partners explained about the importance of fluke control in both sheep and cattle and how to parasite manifests and the associated causes of this. “Cattle and Sheep respond differently to liver fluke and require different control strategies as a result.” 

The Three Ts:

  1. TIMING: Liver fluke disease has a seasonal incidence and a the parasite has a well understood lifecycle. It is critical to use the optimum flukicide at the right time for most effective control. NADIS parasite forecasts can help to predict the peak times of risk.
  2. TESTING: A number of tests can be used to diagnose liver fluke and monitor control of the disease in cattle and sheep. They have a range of specific indictations, strength and weaknesses so it is important to ask whether the test is appropriate to the case.
  3. TRICLABENDAZOLE: Triclabendazole is the active ingredient in many flukicide products. It is critically important for treating acute liver fluke in sheep. There are increasing anecdotal reports of resistance to this drug but it can be difficult to confirm. It is important to understand other potential reasons for apprent failure of treatment and how to prove resistance if it is still suspected. We must try to control liver fluke sustainably and employ measures to preserve the efficacy of triclabendazole in the long-term.

Woodland Opportunities

Douglas Priest from SAC Consulting, gave a very good overview on the current Woodland opportunities and grants that are available.  He also explained the benefits of good shelter belts and how best to achieve this.

“Woodland can be an asset to any property but it is important to consider what the purpose of it is. If you would like to have a commercial asset (mainly conifer) then access is of the utmost importance as poor access will result in a significantly lower net return upon harvesting, sheep and trees can help with track creation at establishment. Native broadleaf schemes also provide shelter but would not be commercially viable, with only small volumes of firewood being harvested (if at all), however access is not such an issue, broadleaf schemes are better suited to riparian situations.”

Winter Feeding and Rations

Ross Williams from Norvite, gave an overview of winter feeding and the breakdown of how important it is to feed good quality silage.  He emphasised that everyone should consider having their silage analysed and understand what the results actually means to the livestock that it is being fed too.barley grains

Key take home winter feeding messages:

• Know your stock – weight and condition (use weigh scales & body condition score animals!)
• Know your feeds -quality of available feeds – be aware of what you are feeding nutritionally
• Set targets and ration accordingly – relative feed budgets; cost your home grown feeds
• Feed margin over live-weight gain

AECS & Greening

Willie Budge from SAC Consulting, explained the current AECS options that are available in Caithness and the benefits of entering the scheme.  He also gave an overview on the current greening changes and what impacts these could potentially have.  You can sread these Willie’s presentation slides here.

“If you are considering an AECS scheme, then now is the time to go to Rural Payments and consider your options, the window for applications will open in January 2018.”


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Further information on how to maximise your farm’s productivity is available at where you can learn how small adaptations to your farm business can improve profitability whilst reducing your carbon footprint.

Downloads related to the meeting topics are available below.

Related Downloads
Liver Fluke Presentation, Heather Stevenson
Liverfluke Products for Sheep & Cattle
Technical Note (TN677): Treatment and Control of Liver Fluke in Sheep and Cattle
The number of disease outbreaks due to the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica has increased in recent years with unprecedented numbers of sheep affected in 2012/13.
Topics: Livestock
Woodland Management & Design PowerPoint
Simon Jacyna, SAC Consulting - PowerPoint Presentation
Funding for Woodland Creation & Woodland Management presentation slides from Ayrshire meeting
Presentation slides about funding for woodland creation & management from the Ayrshire 'Winning the battle against rushes in upland systems' October meeting.
Topics: Climate Change
Silage Analysis & Ration Planning
Mary McDowell presentation - Benefits of knowing what you're feeding your stock
Livestock nutrition
Livestock nutrition: A practical guide
Topics: Climate Change
Silage testing Interpreting the results
Silage testing Interpreting the results: A practical guide
Topics: Climate Change
cows eating silage through a feed rail

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