We have a blood analyser at the surgery that will let us measure calcium, magnesium and phosphorus the same day in cows that have failed to respond to treatment for milk fever or staggers. The machine can also be used to run more comprehensive bloods to measure liver and kidney health. If we need to run other tests (such as mineral profiles) we send the samples direct to the AHVLA Shrewsbury who report very good quality results quickly. We can measure ketone levels in cows and report results quickly, we are looking at putting the portable machines in vets cars.
We are able to run faecal egg counts at the surgery and as long as we have the sample by lunch time the result will be available same day. The same test will let us look for coccidiosis. If we are looking specifically for liver fluke or lungworm we can now test for these at the surgery – lungworm has to incubate overnight.
In calves with scour we have some rapid diagnostic kits that let us look for the most common causes of scour in unweaned calves and lambs (rotavirus, coronavirus, cryptosporidium and E.coli). The results will be available after 10 whole minutes! In older calves we will also test them for cocci and worms, also at the practice. Calves can be tested for appropriate levels of antibodies from colostrum in house. We can get on top of scour problems very quickly.
We have arrangements with three specialist labs if we want to look for bacteria. Milk samples are sent down to the Vale Vet Lab in Devon as they are fast and very cost effective for standard bacteriology. If the cow has already had treatment we can send the sample off to NML for a PCR test – this looks for fragments of DNA and will let us test samples with antibiotics in, the result is usually available next day (cf 2-4 days for a standard culture). Other samples for bacteriology are sent to the AHVLA.