Teatsealing heifers is an important job on the farm and vet calendar. It can also be a dangerous job depending on heifer behaviour and shed configuration. At Anexa, the health and safety of our technicians and the animals in their care is paramount. While we have not had any serious injuries over the past two seasons, it is not uncommon in the industry to see broken arms during the teatsealing season.
Therefore, we are making an important change to keep everyone safer: every heifer that is teatsealed through a rotary shed will be sedated with a low dose of xylazine as she walks on to the platform.
This sedative will help to relax the heifers and reduce the incidence of kicking, stepping, and jumping forward. This will make the job safer and more efficient. Sedated heifers also poo less, which improves hygiene during the teatsealing process. A number of other vet practices already sedate heifers routinely for these reasons.
Sedation is also optional for heifers being teatsealed through a herringbone shed, and is recommended where heifers have historically been fractious.
The cost of sedation is $2 per heifer (exc. GST). Regardless of sedative use, it’s critical that our farmers train their heifers through the shed before teatsealing. This means they walk and stand in the shed at least 3 times prior to teatsealing. It’s important to note that use of xylazine in the last month of pregnancy in off-label due to a small risk of abortion. However, this complication is seldom seen in practice, and the benefits of quiet heifers who do no harm to themselves and others during teatsealing, outweighs the risks.
If you are a farmer who is directly affected by this policy change, and you have concerns about sedation, please speak to your vet. We run a mobile teatseal trailer which could be considered as an alternative solution.
COVID-19 Risk Management Plan: Our staff will be following the government guidelines and maintain a distance of 2m apart. Staff will travel to farms with no more than 2 people in a vehicle sitting diagonally from each other. Unwell staff will not be working. Our staff will continue to follow high biosecurity and hygiene standards.
As farmers, vets, stock agents and processors we all want to ensure that the animals we care for...