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Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

As the holidays approach we want to extend a heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to serve the agricultural community every day.

Thank you for your kindness, for your support, and for continually inspiring us to push the limits of our knowledge and specialty.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication as you continue to provide safe and sustainable food for the world.

Wishing you and your loved ones health, happiness, and prosperity during this holiday season and in the new year!

– The Team at Upper Grand Vets

The Importance of Nursing Care for Down Cows

By: Dr. Alina Cota-Merlo

Everybody has been there: you walk into the barn and there she is, on the ground and unwilling to rise. Treating a down cow promptly is crucial to increase her chances of recovery, the most important aspect of treatment being the amount and quality of nursing care that she receives. The goal of nursing care for down cows is to prevent secondary muscle damage caused by compartment syndrome, the build-up of pressure in/on her down leg causing massive amounts of muscle and nerve damage. Especially when recovery will be prolonged (i.e. 6 hours or more), preventing damage to her down leg can drastically alter her prognosis.

Nursing care for down cows can be broken up into 5 key points:

  • Bedding: Down cows should be on deep bedding made of sand (best option), straw, or a bedded pack. Appropriate bedding depths are:

o Sand: 20-30 cm deep

o Straw/bedded pack: 40-50 cm deep

  • Relocation: Down cows should be relocated to an area appropriate for recovery (ideally, alone in a large pen with deep bedding).

o Appropriate methods for moving down cows: tractor buckets, slings, sleds, platforms on forklifts

o Inappropriate methods for moving down cows: exposed forklifts, hip lifters, dragging by neck or limbs

  • Lifting/repositioning: Down cows should be lifted at least three times a day for no more than 10-15 minutes at a time before being repositioned on their opposite side. Hip lifters or body slings can be used to do this.
  • Nutrition: Continue feeding the cow her regular feed, whether it be good-quality, dry hay or TMR. Ensure food and water is always accessible to her and there is no competition from other animals who may be in the same pen.
  • Milking: Ensure ongoing udder health by milking down cows twice a day when they are lifted, particularly around peak lactation.No matter the reason for your cow being down, all animals should immediately receive one dose of anti-inflammatory medication to decrease muscle damage of the down leg. If pregnant, Metacam or Anafen would be the product of chose. If she is not pregnant, Dexamethasone, Metacam, or Anafen could be used. It is important to note that euthanasia is always an option for down cows, particularly if a cow is down due to a fracture, dislocation, muscle tear, or if not enough labour force is available to provide adequate nursing care.When making euthanasia decisions outside of the above factors, elements to consider when deciding whether to continue treatment or euthanize are:
    • Improvement: is she improving with treatment? Deteriorating? Unchanging?
    • Mentation: is she bright? Eating/ruminating? Or is she dull and not eating?
    • Bloodwork: The levels of CK and AST in her blood are an excellent indication of the level of muscle damage she has sustained from being down and are a good prognostic indicator for her chances of recovery.


    Ask your herd veterinarian about our down cow protocols at UGVS and how they can be adapted for your herd.

    Annual Producer Awards

    After not being able to host our Annual Producer Meeting after a couple of years we were very pleased and excited to be able to bring everyone back together in November to discuss different topics, meet with industry partners, and share farm stories and experiences amongst each other. As done in previous years we awarded different farms with producer awards based on reproductive performance and milk quality parameters by using DHI data. We are pleased to share the winners listed below and want to offer them a congratulations for their hard work.

    Most Improved Reproduction Records – Steveleigh Holsteins; Steve & Adam Witmer

    Most Improved Milk Quality – Perrinridge Farms Ltd.; Vicky Stere

    Top Performance Combined Production, Reproduction & Milk Quality –

    Andita Holsteins; Andy & Rita Maciukiewicz

    Award of Distinction for Dairy – A & E Dairy Ltd.; Eric & Reba Vander Zaag

    Most Improved Calf Program – Bridgeview Farms; Pete & Mark Coleman

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Whether to Water the Calves

By: Dr. Mike Scolaro

As a part of our commitment to growing as a clinic to serve your evolving needs, Dr Mike Scolaro went to The American Association of Bovine Practitioners conference in Milwaukee WI and sat in on talks from global experts in all things cattle. There will be a series of posts to discuss some of the key take homes and our first one is all about water!

Even though pre-weaned calves primarily rely on a food source that contains a significant amount of water, it’s essential to understand that they still need additional water to thrive. You might be tempted to dismiss this idea, saying, “Mike, I already have my hands full with calf care, and my calves seem fine as they are.” That’s completely understandable! Farm life is incredibly busy but let me provide you with some evidence of why water supplementation is crucial.

Every calf benefits from having access to water. Sick calves will drink more water, and healthy calves need it to facilitate starter intake. In fact, limiting water can reduce starter ration intake! To facilitate 1 kg of starter intake, we need to provide 4 liters of water. It’s also important to note that water has no calories, so allowing water intake won’t reduce the calf’s appetite for milk. By simply providing a pail or trough, you can enhance your herd’s growth potential!

My challenge to you is simple—Give it a try! For a week, after feeding milk, provide a bucket with a few litres of water to each calf (bonus if it’s not directly next to the starter pail, cross contamination can cause bacteria buildup in a hurry) and pay attention to how full it is at next feeding. Wintertime can be a challenge, especially in hutches for the provision of water but the effort will not go unrewarded! For those of you with waterers, calves need 2” of waterer length to make sure we aren’t restricting water. Equally important is the height of the waterer, which should not exceed 29” for newborns and can go higher as they age.

Recommendations can be found at .  At the end of the day, a few drops in the bucket can make a world of difference to calf health and the development of your herd’s future.

Due to a global shortage of Lurocaine/Lidocaine products we have been unable to source Lurocaine from our usual supplier. We have researched and found an additional outside source but with this there is a cost increase. For us to be able to continue our dehorning services and prevent the need to dehorn at an older age (costing more to you and worse welfare on the calf) there will be a temporary increase to our dehorning pricing to account for the increase in pricing of Lurocaine. We have been forced to temporarily add $1.50 per dehorning due to cover the cost of the dehorning freezing. Once we have our normal product back the price will revert to the original pricing.



Cyber Security

By: Dr. Rob Swackhammer
As a member of Farm and Food Care Organization, I was recently invited to attend a members’ forum. There were lots of informative presentations including, Dairy Farmers of Ontario giving some details on
their marketing campaigns. The eye-opening presentation that scared me the most was Dr. Janos Botschner’s presentation about threats to farms via computer hacking.

So now it is not enough to worry about biosecurity, we also need to worry about cyber security. It opened my eyes to hear what damage could be done to a farm from a malicious person anywhere in the world. There was an example of a pig farmer who was asked for a ransom in return for not sending incriminating pictures of animal abuse. To be clear
there was no animal abuse, but the threat was real none the less. Other potential disasters include shutting off fans in poultry barns, disabling online generators, and anything that has a web access on the farm.

The take home message for me was who would I call should I have a threat like this attack my farm or business. Phoning companies that provide web access and asking what secure measures they have in place  as well as what support they would offer in the case of something hacking into your system is a vital first step.



September 7, 2023 2023 NewslettersNewsletters

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It’s Sheep and Goat Peak Parasite Season!

By: Dr. Megan Jamieson

There has been a recent, notable increase in the number of calls from our small ruminant clients regarding sick and/or dying sheep and goats. Perhaps you’ve noticed your youngstock is not growing as well or the mortality rate in your herd has suddenly increased? Unfortunately, this is not unexpected for this time of year. It is prime-time parasite season for our small ruminant patients, and we thought this would be a great time to discuss some tips and preventative measures to stay ahead of those pesky parasites!

Signs of parasitism: 

  • Loose feces, diarrhea, fecal contamination of back legs (NOTE: you may NOT see diarrhea with acute barber pole worm infections!)
  • Poor growth rate/weight loss/thin body condition score
  • Reduced appetite
  • Bottle jaw (fluid swelling under the jaw)
  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Unthriftiness/rough hair coat


Keys for prevention: 

  • FAMACHA scoring (pale mucous membranes):
  • Haemonchus worms (aka: barber pole worms) are in the peak time of year to cause clinical disease, especially in the youngstock.
  • During this time of year until October, it is highly recommended to check FAMACHA scores on your herd/flock every 2-4 weeks and treat animals with an appropriate dewormer that are showing clinical signs of disease and/or have a high FAMACHA score.
  • Fecal testing:
    • At our clinic, we offer in-house fecal testing as well as fecal testing through the Animal Health Lab.
    • These tests can tell us if there is a high worm burden or coccidia burden that needs to be addressed.
  • Management:
    • Hygiene is key to prevention, since sheep and goats ingest these parasites from fecal-contaminated areas.
    • If animals have access to pasture, rotational grazing and not overgrazing pasture is highly recommended. It is best to rotate pasture every 3-5 days and not allow animals to graze forages that are 3 inches or shorter in height (80% of the worms are found in the first 2 inches of the grass).


Cleanliness Contest – The Results are In!

By: Dr. Mike Scolaro

With over 10 herds participating in our calf feeding hygiene program, we had the opportunity to drill down on cleanliness and what separated the good from the great. Here are our top findings!

  • Herds that used a cool or tepid rinse step before washing with hot water had significantly cleaner bottles than those that rinsed with hot. Why is that? When we rinse with hot water, milk proteins can ‘cook’ onto the interior of the bottle and create a perfect environment for bacteria to feed and grow.
  • A mechanical cleaning step (brushing) makes a big difference in bottle cleanliness, especially in the barrel of bottle nipples.
  • In automated feeding systems, we were very often surprised at the increased bacterial presence in components like the lines and mixing vessel. This suggests that manually cleaning and sanitizing these is key, even though they may have automatic cleaning cycles!
  • Old plastic can get micro-cracks and help bacteria hide and avoid cleaning processes and chemicals. All plastic has a lifetime and respecting that can maintain acceptable hygiene levels.

We saw all kinds of strategies and methods of cleaning, from simple basin wash programs to restaurant style dishwashers and even homemade bottle washers. The bottom line is all these systems can provide adequate levels of hygiene with the right management!


Our contest winners are the team at Spruit Holsteins in Alliston! Peter and Kathleen have created a homemade bottle washer. First, bottles are rinsed inside and out with warm water. Then, they are washed with hot water and bleach, followed by a hot water rinse. This system allows for the inside of bottles to be thoroughly sprayed and have good contact time with the cleaning agents before being dried. Calves are fed from these bottles before they are put in a group pen and fed by an automated feeding system. Peter is emphatic that good hygiene is important, and more achievable than we sometimes think. “You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a purpose-built bottle washing system,” he says.

We asked Peter and Kathleen what guiding principles helped them decide to develop such a focused effort on calf hygiene. “We literally could not afford to do a bad job” Peter remarks, laughing. Knowing the future of the herd lies in healthy and fast-growing calves, they understand the important role hygiene plays in the productive life of these calves.


“If you have any questions on these or other topics, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Veterinarians.”



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Milk Cultures – Why Do We Do Them?

By: Dr. Mike Scolaro

Not all mastitis is the same. Depending on the bacteria that is causing mastitis, the antimicrobial intramammary therapies available will be ineffective or cause harm to the udder. These cases are impossible to differentiate with the naked eye. The way we can tell the difference is with culture. Up to 50% of cases of mastitis do not benefit from using a mastitis tube.

If you are looking for maximum return on culture results, a quick turnaround time advising treatment is crucial. There are a few results that our in-house lab can produce within 36 hours.

TREAT: These bacteria are susceptible to Cefa Lak, Spectramast LC. They belong to the gram-positive family of bacteria including Staphylococcus (staph), Streptococcus (Strep) and some other species of bacteria.

NO TREAT: These bacteria are not susceptible to available mastitis tubes and cows can handle mild to moderate cases of these mastitis without intervention. These include E. coli, Klebsiella and other gram-negative bacteria.

NO TREAT (No Growth): If the sample has been collected and handled appropriately, no growth indicates that the cow has mounted an appropriate immune response and killed all of the bacteria in the udder. As she has already ‘won the fight’ against the infection, she does not require any mastitis tubes.


Let’s use a scenario as an example. We will make the following assumptions:

Approx. Milk value at farmgate sale: $1/L

Mastitis treatment cost (2 tubes): $16

Cost of culture: $26.80 after tax

Proportion of mastitis cases that do not need/benefit from mastitis tubes: 50%

Average milk production (Ontario average) ~30 litres per day

If this cow develops mastitis, and we decide to treat without culture, we must exclude her from the tank for 2 days of treatment and 96 hours of milk withdrawal. This cost of treatment is the cost of therapy ($16) plus 6 days of milk discarded (6x30L=180L). This case now costs $196 and we don’t even know if it’s been worth it to spend this money.

If we instead collect a sample and submit it for culture, stripping the affected quarter out while we do so, we incur the cost of culture – $26.80. We also incur the cost of discarded milk while waiting for culture results, at a cost of $30 per day. We don’t immediately incur any treatment costs or milk withhold costs. The odds a sample comes back as NO TREAT (50%) can be used to see our expected cost.

26.80 + 0.5x(16+(6×30)) = $124.80 This is $71.20 less than treating every case. So, for the additional cost of culturing on average $71.00 is saved!

Cleanliness Contest!

Cleanliness is an important aspect of calf rearing. From colostrum to feeding equipment, hutch surfaces and everything in between, hygiene is a key determinant of calf health and vitality. Have you ever wondered how the cleanliness practices in your herd are impacting your calves? Wait no longer because the team at UGVS has a way to answer that!

We use a luminometer to measure bacterial activity on a surface. This device can return results within 15 seconds on how clean something is. We have been surprised time and time again, with how seemingly clean surfaces can actually be incredibly contaminated with bacteria. This surprise has led us to believe that this is a very useful and important aspect of calf rearing to assess on a regular basis. We also think that it’s a great way to have a fun competition within our community to benefit our clients.

The Rules are Simple!

1) Contest Begins on May 15, 2023, and closes on June 30, 2023 – there has been an extension!

2) Book a calf hygiene appointment, and have your cleaning method audited and the end result assessed with the luminometer

3) Submit the cleanest calf feeding bottle that you have for entry into our contest – We will test it and record the score.

4) Cleanest bottle wins a $100 credit on their account or a $100 Tim Horton’s gift card. The winner also agrees to share their bottle-washing protocol to be included in the next UGVS newsletter!

Control of Gastrointestinal Parasites in Sheep & Goats

By: Dr. Angela Cranmer

With pasture season upon us, now is an excellent time to revisit your flock’s parasite control strategy. Parasites can cause several issues in your flock including decreased body condition score, production losses, and even death in severe cases.

When designing a parasite control program for your flock it is important to know that all sheep/goats will carry some intestinal parasites.

It is impossible to eliminate all parasites from the environment, and attempting to do so through blanket treatment will result in a residual parasite population that is resistant to the dewormers used. Fortunately, parasite populations can be managed with other strategies such as pasture rotation, monitoring parasite resistance (see below), and avoiding over-crowding.

Inevitably, some individual animals will require treatment despite our best efforts to otherwise manage parasite burdens. In order to determine which animals require treatment, the Five-Point Check is used. It is straightforward, but best performed for the first time with your veterinarian. There are 5 points that are scored (for more information, see our 5-Point Check factsheet):

  1. Body condition score
  2. Dag score (diarrhoea)
  3. FAMACHA score (inner eyelid colour)
  4. Jaw score (swelling)
  5. Hair coat quality (goats) or Nasal discharge (sheep)

Appropriate dewormer is one that is tailored to the health history and circumstances of the flock. Speak with your veterinarian for advice on what product is best for your farm.

Faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT): Faecal samples are collected from a subset of the flock prior to treatment and again 10-14 days later. Parasite eggs are counted and compared in both samples. The reduction in eggs indicates levels of parasite resistance to the anthelmintic (dewormer):

> 95% reduction = dewormer effective

< 95% reduction = anthelmintic resistance present

<65% reduction = dewormer not effective

Co-op Student Testimonial – By Mary Brander

For those wondering who I am, I was born and raised on a dairy farm just outside of Rockwood. I have wanted to be a vet ever since I was a young girl. Every time Dr. Rob would come to our farm, I would run out as fast as I could to watch him palpate a cow or do surgery, or better yet, a postmortem! I am passionate about farming and agriculture, and my goal is to become a large animal veterinarian. My CO-OP with UGVS has helped me decide that I will go to vet school after my degree in Animal Science, which I will be taking this fall at the University of Guelph.

So far, I have really enjoyed my experience, and I appreciate all the support and acceptance of the producers I have visited. It has been great to meet local farmers and learn more about the industry and what vets do daily.

Throughout my CO-OP, I have learned some valuable skills. Firstly, I have learned a lot about different illnesses and diseases that affect food animals, along with their treatments and prevention. I have also learned that to be a vet, you must be very flexible and resilient. All vets get difficult calls, and they must have the right attitude and mindset to keep going, rather than being disheartened. Also, vets have to balance a lot of things on their plates, including their own lives, so being able to be flexible is also important too. I am extremely grateful to UGVS for giving me this opportunity to learn and gain experience, and I am very excited about what the future holds!


“If you have any questions on these or other topics, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Veterinarians.”

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7707 Mill Rd., Guelph ON N1H 6J1
1139 Settlers Rd., Sheffield ON L0R 1Z0
7643 ON-6, Arthur, ON N0G 1A0

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