With everything going on in the world, animal owners are unsure what they can and can’t do when it comes to their pets and animals.
Parkside Vets Director Alistair Crozier answers some of the most common questions about caring for farm and smallholding animals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Q: Can I still get a vet to see my animals?
A: Preserving food security and the food chain is essential during the Covid-19 lockdown, so you will still be able to get the vet to see your animals. However vets can only undertake essential journeys to urgent, sick or emergency cases. If you are unsure, speak to your vet first and they will decide if they should attend your animal or give you some advice.
When it comes to horses, your vet will be happy to speak to you and may ask for photos or a video of your horse to assess if they should see if it falls under an urgent or emergency case.
Q: Will my vet still do flu vaccinations and dentals?
A: All routine procedures, including vaccinations and routine dentistry, have been stopped and only services that are essential for animal welfare are continuing.
So if your horse is due a second flu vaccine because it had its first vaccine before the current restrictions were in place or if your horse suffers a dental emergency, then the vet will come and see your horse.
Vaccinations for other diseases may still be done, your vet will need to discuss the risks against the benefits with you and make a decision based on your individual circumstances.
Q: What about routine animal husbandry procedures such as cow PDs?
A: Routine procedures which directly impact on maintaining the food chain can still be done. The current advice is that routine fertility visits can be deemed essential to future production, but castrates/disbuds would not as they have no direct effect on production in the short term.
Q: If the vet visits do I need to take any special precautions or do anything different?
A: Social distancing rules still apply when your vet visits so your vet will want to speak to you beforehand about what symptoms your horse has so a plan can be made.
Have some warm water available for your vet to wash.
If you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or are self-isolating have someone who is fit and well attend your appointment.
Q: Can I take my farm animals to market?
A: Yes, markets for animals entering the food chain are still running so you can still transport your animals to market. Each auction mart has made individual arrangements for how these sales will be conducted, but expect to only be allowed to drop your animals off at the unloading docks with only registered buyers present in the mart. The auctioneer will ring you afterwards to inform you of how much your animals were sold for.
Q: Can I ride my horse?
A: Horse riding is a recognised dangerous sport so we advise you don’t ride your horse at the moment because if you are injured you will need to use the emergency services and the NHS is already stretched to capacity. Exercise your horse by walking in hand or lunging.
Q: Can the foot trimmer still come and trim my cattle’s feet?
A: Foot trimmers should only be delivering emergency and urgent care to lame cattle and not conducting any routine or non-urgent appointments, so please discuss with them about your cattle’s feet.
Q: Can the farrier still come and trim my horse’s feet?
A: The British Farriers & Blacksmiths Association has advised all farriers to only attend horses for essential work so please discuss with them about your horse’s feet.
Q: Can I catch Covid-19 from my animals?
A: Current opinion is that animals do not transmit the virus, it is a human-to-human disease.
Q: What happens if I catch Covid-19 or I am in self-isolation?
A: Prepare a plan, share it with your staff and neighbours or friends so that you have a contingency in place in case you become ill or have to self-isolate.
If you have any other questions about your equine or farm animals, contact Parkside Vets.