Barry Cooper, Veterinary Assistant, Paragon Vets, Dalston, Cumbria
“Not only is it less invasive for the animal, but I think that it also offers faster recovery rates.”
With two branches covering 80 dairy herds within a 20-mile radius, vet Barry Cooper and the team at Paragon Vets see almost 200 cases of left displaced abomasum in a typical year. And although Barry and the team at Paragon strive to minimise the occurrence of LDAs through good preventative management, he felt that when cases did present, endoscopy could offer a better way – for the cow, the vet and producers – to correct this serious condition. “I knew that endoscopic – or key hole – procedures had the potential to be extremely useful in large animal practice,” he says.
Barry took some training from vet Sotirios Karvountzis. “Our main endoscopic use is for correcting LDAs, but it’s also useful for exploratory and diagnostic work.
“There aren’t many practices that can offer endoscopy to their dairy clients either, so I thought this would give our practices something extra – something different – and also help to ensure that we were keeping up to date with veterinary developments.”
Barry much prefers using endoscopy to correct the LDAs he diagnoses: “Not only is it less invasive for the animal but, in my opinion, it also offers faster recovery rates and a much lower risk of infection.
He adds that with this reduced risk comes a reduction in use of antibiotics, which would usually be given routinely after any invasive operation – but not so with endoscopy.
“Clients are happy too – not only is this approach potentially better for the cow, but it can also help to reduce labour requirements and costs.”
He offers the endoscopy technique for correcting LDAs at a similar price to the more conventional surgical techniques. “But I do believe that when you look at the bigger picture and consider reduced antibiotic usage, as well as minimal labour and potential faster recovery rates, this technique works out favourably.”
Barry explains that one of the reasons that his practices offer endoscopy at a comparative price is to encourage uptake among clients. “How we treat a sick animal is their decision. But, in our experience, once they’ve seen the benefits of using endoscopy they begin to ask for it.”
To ‘roll and toggle’ a cow is a labour-intensive job, requiring at least three people. “But if I turn up with the endoscopy kit and the cow is safely restrained then I can just get on and do it.”
Dairy clients are also quickly waking up to the benefits of key-hole procedures and their enthusiasm is such that the business is considering investing in a second endoscopy kit. “Laparoscopic correction will be the most commonly used LDA correction technique at our Dalston branch.”
Barry carried out his first LDA procedure using the practice’s kit in September 2015. He carried out a further five corrections using endoscopy that year, but this figure leapt to 50 in 2016. “And this year I expect the practice to carry out close to 100 LDA corrections endoscopically.”