By Marike Brits -Stockfarm August 2018
Ruminant vets take responsibility
Attending the Congress of the Ruminant Veterinary Association annually, it is clear to see that this subgroup in the South African veterinary industry has a very good sense of the responsibility they have concerning the South African livestock industry and food security by extension.
The 2018 Ruvasa congress took place from 18 to 20 June at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference centre in Boksburg, Gauteng and saw animal production veterinarians from across the country get together to improve their knowledge. Over the three days, presentations and discussions focussed on clinical issues, reproduction and matters in the dairy industry.
One of the important topics discussed was pain management in cattle as well as anaesthesia administration in both small ruminants and cattle. Dr Lynette Bester is an Onderstepoort-trained veterinarian holding the position of Senior Lecturer Anaesthesiology at School of Animal and Veterinary Science of the University of Adelaide in Australia. She did three presentations during the congress, sharing her expertise with her South African colleagues.
She says that pain management is not a luxury but a necessity. “We are responsible for relieving pain and distress.” She says that the single most important tool available in modern veterinary medicine for pain management is pre-emptive analgesia combined with multi-modal analgesia.
The crypto monster
Another very important discussion came in a high-energy session led by Dr Ariena Shepherd of Bergville in KZN. This session tackled the threat of cryptosporidium outbreaks. She emphasises that it is a rapidly increasing problem and very complicated to combat. Advice resulting from this session places the focus on innate immunity, combined with strict hygiene and biosecurity, as our only weapons. Concluding the discussion, Dr Faffa Malan made a call to veterinary academia to have a master’s degree student look at the matter of cryptosporidium. “We need a single person or team to look at the available facts and statistics. This can be a national disaster and must be faced head-on.”
Bull breeding soundness
Day 2 of the congress focused on reproduction and kicked off with Dr Geoff Brown on the evaluation of sperm morphology in evaluating breeding soundness in rams and bucks. He reminds that sperm morphology is a skill that often takes a long time to master. “There is sometimes confusion regarding the origin of specific defects and their likely effect on future fertility of the male animal.” Dr Brown discussed several scenarios in the evaluation of sperm morphology in rams and bucks.
He was followed by Prof Dietmar Holm with an update on the VetCert electronic bull breeding soundness certification system. He says the purpose of the system is to get a uniform way of certifying bull breeding soundness in SA. “So that we all use the same standard and not confuse or clients. The certificate needs to be a recognised as a token of quality in the industry.” A panel discussion was held to further discuss bull breeding soundness certification in the South African livestock industry. During dis session, there was a high focus on the responsibility of animal production veterinarians on ensuring the quality, legality, standardisation and thoroughness of these certifications.
Prof Gareth Bath, keynote speaker, Dr Charlotte Nkuna, president of the South African Veterinary Association, Dr Stephen Hughes, Ruvasa, en Dr Lynette Bester, international speaker of the University of Adelaide.
Some of the speakers included Dr Tadej Malovrh of Slovenia, Dr David Wallace of the Agricultural Research Council, Dr Ariena Shepherd of Bergville and Dr Miemie Grobler of the University of Pretoria.
Dr Hein Nel of the Food Safet Agency had a chat with Dr Leonard de Freitas of Veterinary House Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
A panel discussion was held to further discuss bull breeding soundness certification in the South African livestock industry. The Panel was Dr Fanie steyn of Ramsem, Dr Geoff Brown of the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science, Dr Pete Irons of Murdoch University in Australia, Dr Joubert Viljoen and Leonie Delgado of Vetprotect, Dr Ariena Shepherd of Bergville and Prof Dietmar Holm of the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science.
Zoetis was once again the main sponsor of the annual Ruvasa congress. The Zoetis team is from left Shivesh Patel, Henry Leonard, David Human, Jacues de Jager, Johan Visagie, Isabella Erlank, Dr Chantelle Erwee and Gorette Moutinho.
Every year during the Ruvasa congress gala event the Ricky Wilson award is awarded. This year it was awarded to Dr Jannie van der Merwe of the Tygerberg Animal Hostpital Darling branch. This award, in honour of Dr Ricky Wilson, one of the founder members of Ruvasa, is awarded annually to a veterinarian who have made a significant contribution to the industry on farm level during his career. The award specifically focusses on a farm level contribution, as Dr Wilson believed that the rural vet’s most important responsibility is to empower the producer, in order to ensure that the vet and the farmer can work together as a team.