Year Round Or Block Calving: Balancing Herd Economics and Health

Year Round Or Block Calving: Balancing Herd Economics and Health

High infrastructure and feed costs, combined with continuing low milk prices, mean dairy farmers are moving toward block calving to increase their productivity – but at what cost?

In block calving, all the cows in a herd have their calves over a block of just a few weeks. This means a short but intense period of labour for farm workers, rather than the longer but less fraught activity when a herd’s calving is spread evenly through the year. Dairy farmers will plan their block calving for spring or autumn, and each season has its own set of advantages and draw backs.

Block calving can help farmers make the most efficient use of expensive infrastructure and plan for when pasture and silage is most economically available. However, it can also mean that an entire herd is temporarily out of milk production with the farm’s entire calving investment for a whole year resting on just a few weeks.

Calving in the spring or the autumn 

Whether spring or autumn calving, a successful season will see a large number of new and vulnerable calves concentrated in a small area ripe for the growth and spread of pathogens. There are two particular diseases that place every new born calf at risk.

Cryptosporidiosis and coccidiosis are major diseases of new born calves causing debilitating weight loss, diarrhoea and even death. According to figures from the UK Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, 2012), 38% of cattle enteric diseases, isolated by veterinary laboratories, were identified as cryptosporidiosis, while another 18% could be attributed to coccidiosis.

Both diseases begin through the contamination of food, water or bedding with the infected faeces. In the case of cryptosporidiosis, the infective agent – the parasite’s eggs or ‘oocysts’, can persist in bedding for several months and even, for coccidiosis, from one year to the next.

Infective oocysts are resistant to most disinfectants and cleaning agents

The damage caused by infection is both long-lasting and irreversible. Licensed treatments are available but, as yet, there is no complete ‘cure’. Because infective oocysts are resistant to most disinfectants and cleaning agents, efficient management and constant vigilance are the only safeguards against infection and re-infection.

Clean housing, bedding and ventilation together, with raising feeding troughs above the ground, will reduce the chance of faecal contamination. A policy of low-density stocking supported by a regime of thorough cleaning and disinfecting immediately before and after the calving season, will also help limit the chances of re-infection year on year.

Whether your dairy farm is just coming out of its spring calving, or preparing for autumn calving, diagnostic testing of suspect animals now for cryptosporidiosis might help isolate a source of widening infection even before it begins.

Canine Infertility and Abortion – Keeping Brucella Canis in Check

Canine Infertility and Abortion – Keeping Brucella Canis in Check

Breeders of pedigree dogs depend on the health and fertility of their breeding animals. Maintaining a kennel free of Brucella canis prevents early abortion and infertility. A programme of regular screening, supported by MegaCor FASTest® BRUCELLA C. Veterinary Diagnostic Test Kits, provide the essential first step to creating a Brucellosis prevention programme.

Everyone loves puppies

Everyone loves puppies. And everyone loves the anticipation of their healthy arrival. But for breeders of pedigree dogs and kennel owners, puppies represent much more than bundles of fun and frolics. The loss of a pedigree litter can have serious economic consequences for a kennel or breeder, and the loss of fertile breeding stock can have implications for the survival of a genetic line or even an entire breed.

Infection with the bacterium Brucella canis is most noticeable – and most distressing, when a litter of long awaited puppies is aborted, usually in the last two weeks of pregnancy, or die shortly after birth. Less obvious are the signs that a valued animal is a carrier and likely to infect other animals. Not all pregnancies, prematurely ended by B. canis, show up as abortions or puppies that die. A pregnant bitch can re-absorb the placentae and foetuses that die early in pregnancy. Without reference to a reliable veterinary diagnostic test for B.canis, she may appear to be infertile rather than dangerously infected and infective.

Brucella canis spreads through contact

It’s not just bitches that might carry B.canis. Male dogs too can carry the bacterium, in their reproductive organs, resulting in a defective and low sperm count with a serious effect on their fertility. Brucella canis spreads through contact not only with diseased birth material, but also through other discharges and secretions from infected dogs and bitches. Brucella canis can also pass to humans, with those handling aborted material especially at risk of infection.

Regular screening is important to maintain a disease free and fertile breeding stock

Screening with Vetlab’s FASTest® BRUCELLA C. Veterinary Diagnostic Test Kit is the trusted method for cost-effective B.Canis monitoring. The 20-minute test utilises specific antibody technology which seeks out any Brucella bacteria and attaches to it, creating a coloured complex. The whole test takes place in a small, plastic strip that gives a clear-cut positive or ‘all-clear’ negative result supported by a ‘control’ test to show that the kit is performing correctly.

With no reliable and economically viable treatment available, it’s most important that kennels and breeders have their animals regularly and continually screened for the presence of B.canis to maintain a healthy, disease free and fertile breeding stock.


Combatting Puppy Farming and the Infectious Diseases they Spread

Combatting Puppy Farming and the Infectious Diseases they Spread

A Shadowy & Cruel Market Place

Fuelled by the greed and desire to make cash, unscrupulous breeders continue to breed litter after litter of puppies with no regard for their health or welfare.  The sharp increase of illegal trading of pets across Europe and the UK is spiralling out of control.  The steady increase of parvovirus diagnostic test kit sales in the UK, just confirms the problem. What’s being done, and how can it ever be stamped out? With difficulty!  This horrible trade will never be stopped despite the continuing efforts and dedication of many societies throughout the world.  The Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs Home always spring to mind, as they are invariably at the forefront of these ongoing issues, and thank goodness they are!

Proposed Animal Health Law

EU policy makers are backing an initiative which could ensure that all breeders and sellers will be registered from 2020. That seems a long way off, so just how many more sick animals will be illegally sold and traded in that time? More than any of us can possibly imagine – and will any type of law ever stop this trading? You’ve just got to feel for the legitimate breeders who work so hard to ensure their animals are healthy, vaccinated and cared for properly until they reach their new homes.

Canine Parvovirus – Top Of The Agenda

Vetlab Supplies have supported charities for over 30 years and have a wealth of knowledge about infectious diseases and diagnostic test kits. Parvovirus is one of the main problems that this illegal puppy-trading brings with it.  Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness and worse.  There is no doubt that illegal puppy farms/kennels can be rife with this virus, which can even survive on inanimate objects such as shoes, bowls, and all types of flooring.

Puppies and young dogs are most susceptible to the virus especially when they are not vaccinated. It’s a well-known fact that many dogs sold on through puppy farms are not vaccinated and many thousands of unsuspecting owners find that the new addition to their family quickly becomes sick and are subsequently confirmed positive for canine parvovirus.   Canine Parvovirus is one of the most common and deadly causes of canine viral gastroenteritis in the world.

Charitable Discounts From Vetlab Supplies

The Fastest Canine Parvo diagnostic test kit is based on a lateral-flow principle. It is a non-refrigerated test kit with a long shelf-life and a simple 2-step procedure which gives you reliable results in under 5 minutes.   The precise diagnosis of this infection enables the veterinarian to apply the immediate treatment and to introduce quarantine measures for infected animals.  The Fastest Parvo Card is very reasonably priced, accurate and available at charity discounts to all veterinarians working for charities/welfare centres and shelters.  Vetlab Supplies also offer many other veterinary supplies at charitable discounts – see what they can do for you.

To find out more about our large range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website: or Telephone: 01798 874567

How TARGET Canine Ovulation Test Kit is beneficial for successful canine breeding

How TARGET Canine Ovulation Test Kit is beneficial for successful canine breeding

Predicting The Right Time to Mate – Target Canine Ovulation Test Kit

Dramatically improve your reproduction reputation with the TARGET Canine Ovulation Diagnostic Test Kit. Relying on visual signs of heat, like vulval swelling and bleeding and flagging, can get you close to a bitch’s perfect breeding day(s). Analysing vaginal cytology microscopically can get you closer. Combining these clues with progesterone levels is the gold standard for predicting ovulation and finding the perfect day(s). The TARGET Canine Ovulation Test Kit measures progesterone quickly and accurately. You will never have to send blood off to a lab for progesterone levels again, waiting valuable days, and missing the bitch’s perfect day(s). Multiple progesterone levels are often necessary. The test kit comes with the ability to run six different progesterone levels.

Simple Procedure – 6 Individual Diagnostic Test Kits

The TARGET Canine Ovulation Test Kit is a rapid semi-quantitative ELISA test that gives you results in your practice in just minutes. It is extremely easy to run. The results are easy to read as well. Detailed instructions come with the kit, including an encompassing review of reproduction: LH surge and progesterone rising at the same time, ovulation occurring approximately 2 days after the initial rise in progesterone, etc. It is ideal to avoid feeding the bitch for about 8 hours before drawing blood to avoid a lipaemic sample.

Increase Breeding Success

Another time in a bitch’s cycle where measuring progesterone levels comes in handy is near the end of her pregnancy. By using the kit and measuring progesterone levels (along with breeding days and signs like a drop in rectal temperature), you can better plan for a Caesarian section since progesterone levels drop 2-3 days before whelping. There is little doubt that this kit will help you increase your success in conception and litter size, making you and your client exceedingly satisfied. The diagnostic test kit is very reasonably priced, saving you and your client valuable money.

COVID-19 Update

As the impact of COVID-19, is being felt around the world, the well-being of our employees and their families is of the highest importance to us.

By putting the safety of our employees first, we have reduced our on-site staff to a minimum and we will endeavour to maintain our business operations to the highest standard possible.

We are carefully monitoring and following official guidance from the UK Government, Public Health England, WHO and CDC guidelines and in line with these; we are currently operating business as usual.

We are monitoring our stock levels on a daily basis ensuring a fair distribution of our products. We are fully committed to maintaining the supply of products during these unprecedented times.

We are open for orders from Monday through to Thursday and closing on Fridays:

Friday Closure:  For any technical queries, orders or enquiries please do one of the following:
• Email:
• Fax: 01798 874787
• Telephone & leave a message: 01798 874567

We will endeavour to contact you on Friday and Monday if it is non-urgent.

If you require any further information, please contact Vetlab Supplies Ltd Customer Services on 01798 874567 or email

Thank you to all our customers and suppliers for their support during these temporary measures.

Stay Safe