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Farmer’s Newsletter – March 2024

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March 2024

Spring is here!

Here is the latest from our farm team at Mount Vets. If you would like any further advice or would like us to cover something in the next newsletter, please call us on 01823 662286 or contact us here.

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Lambing Course

During March we held our Mount Vets Lambing Course, run by our vet David Balch. David led our lambing course last week, with the help of our ATT and Vet Tech Alice.

Thank you to all that attended. It was a very successful day, comprising of both practical and theory elements, covering; Preparation for lambing, as well as key practical skills, such as correcting basic lambing presentations, colostrum provision, stomach tubing, castration, and tailing.

This course is open to everyone who feels they would like to be better equipped for lambing season. If you would like more information or would like to be added to our waitlist for future courses, please email:


(Written by Charlie Aldington)

It all seems to have gone quiet on the eastern front for now, a relief to the rest of the team who’ve managed to wriggle out of being deployed to the delights of Norfolk to blood sample sheep in the rain. Do David, Ollie and I deserve medals for bravely answering the call of duty? Maybe.

So, what’s next? Did we get away with it?

This new strain of Bluetongue (BTV-3) popped up last September in the Netherlands, ripping through the sheep and cattle populations, with a 30% mortality rate in sheep. Between now and September, they saw an estimated loss of 5% and 0.2% of the Dutch national flock and herd respectively. This is on top of the devastating production losses from sick animals and movement restrictions. BTV-3 was also found in neighbouring Belgium, Germany, France and, in early November, the UK.

Since arriving here, most likely with infected midges being blown across the channel from North Holland, we’ve had a total of 123 confirmed cases to date in the Kent and Norfolk areas. What’s interesting is that none of these 123 cases have been symptomatic or ill, with no deaths yet linked to BTV-3 here. All cases have been found with antibodies, indicating that they were exposed to bites from infected midges, though none have had active virus found in their blood. Positive-testing animals were euthanised not so much on welfare grounds but due to the small risk that they could be a potential source of virus for other midges.

The working theory is that, because the virus only replicates inside the midges above a certain ambient temperature, by the time they arrived in November it was too cold for them to be carrying a high viral load per bite. This meant that there was enough virus per midge for some animals to be exposed and develop antibodies, but not enough to cause symptomatic disease (or at least only very mild disease that appears to have gone unnoticed). As we proceeded further into the winter, the midge populations would have died off and entered a low activity period. Right now, the midges are mostly waiting as larvae in the soil to emerge in the spring as it warms up again.

Unfortunately, a vaccine is possibly not going to arrive in time for this next midge season, which starts picking up from the spring onwards, typically peaking in autumn. Some are estimating that a vaccine may not be here before early 2025. So, we are at the mercy of the midges until then.

Will it have managed to overwinter here in our midge populations, or will it have faded away with the winter die off? Will it blow back over from northern Europe earlier into this midge season or will we get lucky again? Only time will tell.

Upcoming courses

Sheep Group Meeting

We are holding our next Sheep Group Meeting on 22nd April 2024.


Our friends at ELANCO Animal Health are coming to deliver a farmer meeting on sustainable worm control in sheep, alongside some strategies for slowing the development of wormer resistance. It can often seem easier to pop out and buy some wormer at the first suspicion of disease, but using the wrong wormer at the wrong time can be almost as bad as not worming at all and significantly slow down a correct diagnosis. Getting into a routine of submitting regular, strategic dung samples for faecal egg counting might save you a significant amount of time and money when done properly! Using wormer only when necessary and with correct technique will slow the development of wormer resistance on your farm. The talk will be held on the 22nd April at the Beambridge Inn, TA21 0HB. 19.00 arrival for a 19.30 start.

Please ring the practice on 01823 662286 to book your place.
Please ring the practice to book your place on any of our courses on 01823 662286 or email

Goodbye Ali

This month we say goodbye to Ali Harris. Ali Harris has been working with the Mount Vets for over 15 years and has been based at our Colliton branch. Ali has always been there to help you all out with any enquiries or to offer advice and has been a very valued member of the team. She will be greatly missed by all! We wish you the best in your next chapter.  

Meet the Team!

We have an experienced & friendly team here at Mount Vets. You might already recognise a few faces but over the next few months we will reintroduce you to some of our excellent team. To read more and see more of the faces of Mount Vets visit our team page, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Piers Pepperell


Many of you will already know our Mount Vets Director Piers; but did you know he has appeared on tv show Blind Date with Cilla Black?

Piers loves to spend a free day with his two daughters and three dogs, surfing on the North Devon Coast.

His favourite vet call out was when he was called into the waiting room and unknown to him at the time, but he then met his wife to be. She had brought in her eight baby bunny rabbits, which led on naturally to a 10-minute chat about pig wormers and her asking Piers out on a date.

Pip White


Pip is one of our large animal vets. If you’ve met her, you will probably know how much she loves her cows. So much so, that she loves to spend her free time at home with her cows! That, or in the showring showing them. 🐮

Pip graduated as top student in her year from the University of Surrey.

Her favourite song is Mr Brightside by the Killers.

Have a question about any of the topics covered in this newsletter?

If you need any assistance with the topics covered in this newsletter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced farm vets who will be able to help. Call 01823 662286, or contact us here.

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