We focus on disease prevention by providing our clients with information about sound management for their herds.
Unfortunately, even in the best managed herds, disease does exist. We will assess the situation, either on farm or at the clinic and will use the knowledge and tools we have to determine why the animal is sick and to treat appropriately. If an animal has died, we recommend doing a post-mortem to try and determine what the cause of death was. In some instances, we will be able to tell on gross pathology (what we can see with our eyes). In other instances, we may need to send samples to the lab to determine what was going on. We can then make recommendations on what you can do to prevent these deaths if at all possible.
We remain informed on the most recent treatment regimes by attending meetings and conferences. We will notify you if we see or expect to see outbreaks in our area.
In some instances where the case is complicated, we will call in a herd investigation unit that assists us in identifying the problem.
Obstetrics and Surgery
Obstetrics are largely seasonal, with the majority of this work happening in the spring.
We perform numerous surgeries during the course of the year including: cesarean sections, displaced abomasums, uterine amputations, urethrostomies (water belly surgeries), exploratory laparotomies, eye enucleations, mass resections, castrations, wound repairs, naval resections, hernia repairs, etc.
Beef Herd Health
We are seeing this part of our practice grow and a number of clients are on one of our herd health programs. Herd health programs encompass all aspects of management. We evaluate the herd, consult with the client and make recommendations regarding nutrition, reproduction, vaccination, parasite control, marketing, biosecurity, record keeping etc. We make scheduled visits to the farm to perform pregnancy diagnosis, breeding soundness evaluations and other routine procedures. Some of our visits will simply involve an evaluation of the cattle, environment and records. We can then sit down and discuss problems or progress that has been made. Contact us if you are interested in these services.
We can help with ration formulation specific to age, sex and stage of development of the group you are feeding. We can facilitate having your feed tested to ensure that nutritional needs are being met and can provide information on alternate feed sources. We have a core sampler in the clinic that should be used in 20-30 bales to get a good representative sample. If we suspect toxins in the feed, we can also send samples to the lab to determine if this is the case.
Water sources should be fit for livestock consumption and tested if this is questionable.
Cattle can be affected by a number of internal and external parasites. At times these parasites may go unnoticed, but can lead to reduced productivity in the herd. If not treated problems such as diarrhea, hair loss and anemia (low red blood cells) can result.
Diagnosis of a parasite problem can sometimes be made with an examination. Other times we need to perform other testing procedures. Fecal flotations involve taking a manure sample, diluting it with a special solution and spinning it in a centrifuge. We then allow parasite eggs to float to the top where they can be collected and examined with a microscope. Skin scrapings can be examined under a microscope to look for mites or fungi. Skin scrapings can also be cultured on a special media to see if fungi will grow.
There are many products available that can be used to prevent or treat a parasite problem. We can help you find the one(s) that are best for your herd and situation.
Cows & Heifers
Pregnancy examinations can be done by rectal palpation or ultrasound. Rectal palpation is most accurate after about 45 days, but can sometimes be done as early as 30 days. Ultrasound can be used to identify the fetus as early as 28 days of gestation, but due to high occurrence of early embryonic death, we suggest to have them rechecked after 42 days. Ultrasonography can also be used to determine the sex of the fetus between 65-75 days bred. The calf must be reachable and needs to be in the right position in order to do so.
Abnormalities of the reproductive tract, such as cysts, freemartinism, tumors or uterine infections can often be diagnosed by palpation or ultrasonography.
Bull soundness evaluation (bull testing) to assess fertility has been proven to be economically 5-10 times as important as rate of gain or carcass quality.
A bull should be sound in three areas: sex drive and serving ability, physical soundness and semen quality. Sex drive and mating ability can be hard to evaluate in the squeeze and often the producer must ensure this is adequate when the bull is placed with cows.
Scrotal circumference is evaluated and compared to standards for the breed. Bulls that do not meet these are at risk of being unable to produce adequate sperm numbers. Female offspring from these bulls have been proven to be slower reaching puberty and therefore may conceive later.
To ensure semen quality is good, samples are collected and examined for motility and morphology. Semen is collected by palpation or with a rectal probe.
We have overheard many producers correlate the score on the semen sheet (% normal semen) with the fertility of the bull. This is NOT a good way to evaluate the overall fertility of a bull, as the percent of normal semen can and does change more than 10% in a week. The semen sheet is pass or fail.
As veterinarians evaluating semen, we want to be sure that a bull has good density and motility and that he can produce over 70% normal semen. The bull must also be above the minimum scrotal circumference. If a bull is able to accomplish this, then we classify him as satisfactory.
A satisfactory classification on the semen sheet means that if a bull has a normal libido (sex drive) and is physically sound (not painful when he mounts and can put on the miles required), then he will breed as expected. He will have equal fertility to all other bulls with a satisfactory classifications under the same conditions.
Embryo Transfer and Estrus Synchronization
Embryo transfer and artificial insemination have allowed the beef and dairy industry to make rapid genetic advances. There are various protocols that can be used to control the reproductive cycle to facilitate these procedures. We can advise you on the method that best suits your needs.
At the Animal Health Centre, we can set up programs to induce cows to superovulate and multiple embryos may be collected. These embryos can be transferred to recipient cows or frozen for later use. Recipient cows are synchronized with the embryo donor cow so that they will accept the embryo, allow it to implant and then grow in their uterus
Cows and heifers may be induced to ovulate, so that artificial insemination can be performed at the correct stage of their cycle. Groups of cows or heifers can be synchronized to ovulate at the same time, so that they can be bred one after the other as they pass through the chute.
Semen Collection and Freezing
With the ability to collect semen, you can use a proven herd sire for as long as you have the farm. Many bulls are no longer able to breed at about 6 years. Collection of semen from sires that have superior genetics allows them to be used much longer.
At the Animal Health Centre, we can collect semen for on farm use. The semen is sent to Saskatoon to be processed and frozen in straws, ready for A.I.
Semen to be collected for export or off farm use must be collected at a certified collection center. Please contact us if this interests you. We can provide all the tests necessary for your bull to gain access to these centers.
Hoof Evaluation and Care
We are able to examine all aspects of the hoof by lifting and tipping cattle on their side with a hydraulic tip table. This procedure allows us to diagnose and work on various foot problems without having to use a general anesthetic. Sandcracks, corns, deformed hooves, arthritis, infections, bruising and fractures are some of the most common ailments that we treat. We also do uncomplicated hoof trims on cattle that simply have overgrown hooves.
We have several veterinarians on staff who are accredited for export. We can certify that animals for export to the U.S. or other countries are healthy and free of disease. For some states, these animals need only be examined, identified and the correct documentation completed. For others further testing may be required, including TB tests. Other countries may vary, depending on their import requirements.
Dairy Herd Health
We offer diary herd health in the area as well. This generally involves pregnancy diagnosis, fresh cow checks, treatment of sick cows, a walk through all the areas of the barn to see where changes can be made, and a lot of consultation about different aspects of dairy production. We supply our herd health clients with written protocols to adhere by when certain circumstances arise. We also provide educational client talks, held in the upstairs of our clinic.