Large Animal Services


Cattle Pregnancy Testing

  • Early pregnancy detection in heifers and cows is a tool producers can use to increase productivity.  Pregnancy testing can identify which cows are pregnant and help determine the expected spread and pattern of calving. The major benefits of pregnancy testing include:
  • Early detection of non pregnant cows improves genetic performance as only highly fertile cows are retained.
  • Non pregnant cows should be sold as soon as practical. They consume feed better left for pregnant stock (especially in drought) and re-joining means there is a long period (usually at least 18 months) before there is any return from their weaned calf
  • Identifies infertility problems within a herd so action can be taken sooner rather than later. Diseases such as Leptosporosis, Vibriosis and Pesti-virus can reduce herd pregnancy rates to as low as 25%.
  • Cattle prices and available feed can dictate when these empty cows are sold but separating and identifying them at the time of pregnancy testing is beneficial.


Calving can be a difficult time of year for farmers. At Gunnedah Veterinary Hospital all our vets are experienced with cattle obstetrics. If you notice problems calling sooner rather than later is crucial for favourable outcomes.

Difficult calving can also be seasonal related, especially in good seasons where there is above average pasture availability especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. In the 3rd trimester a foetus can grow 0.2 – 0.3kg/day or 80% of its final weight. The main causes of difficult births are due to three factors:

  1. Calf too big to fit through the pelvis (30-70%)
  2. Calf coming out backwards (20-45%)
  3. Weak labour (10-20%).

Many factors affect calf birth weight but a high plain of nutrition during the last trimester has been linked to increased energy levels and increases in the calf birth weights. If cattle are due to calve later in the good seasons and are on this high plain of nutrition for a few months they can also have weak labour as they can lay down fat in their uterus which causes ineffective contractions. Additionally, cows with big calves are more likely to get uterine exhaustion when attempting to deliver a calf and then give up. It is important in good seasons to place cattle on lower energy paddocks if available during the last trimester of pregnancy.

Pasture problems

Rain results in much of the grazing country producing a good growth of legume (mostly burr medic) dominant pasture. Stock grazing such pastures are susceptible to bloat and pulpy kidney which can cause severe losses.

Both conditions result in rapid death and can be quite difficult to differentiate in the dead animal. However, the causes are quite different.

Bloat results in a froth developing in the rumen which traps gas preventing it from being belched. This gas build causes the rumen to expand putting pressure against organs and resulting in sudden death.

When pastures are considered risky there are a few management options available:

  • Offering roughage such as hay before being placed on the pasture and during pasture exposure to fill the cattle up
  • Anti-bloat blocks or licks
  • Placing bloat oil into the water supply (only works with troughs, remembering that on lush pasture water intake is reduced).
  • The more measures taken the more the risk can be reduced.

Pulpy kidney is caused by bacteria which are naturally found in the gastro-intestinal tract of ruminants in very low numbers. The bacteria produce a toxin, and normally in low amounts the body neutralises the toxin without any problems. When eating lush pastures the bacterial numbers increase as does the toxin levels resulting in toxaemia.

Livestock are generally found dead and often they bloat just before death.

It is important to identify the cause of sudden death as pulpy kidney can only be prevented. This entails a proper vaccination schedule. The initial course is two vaccinations 4-6 weeks apart with the initial dose given at marking or weaning. Boosters may be necessary with 5 in 1 which is an effective insurance against losses.

Bull Fertility Testing

Many producers tend to focus on female fertility within their breeding herds while sires can be overlooked. We offer the service of Bull Breeding Soundness Examinations to producers. We check their scrotal circumference and tone, physical examination of sheath, penis, legs and analysis semen.


Horses can be treated at the clinic or on your premises – travelling fees apply & safe work areas must be supplied for the rectal examination of mares.

  • Studbook identification & DNA sampling
  • Colics
  • Lameness investigation
  • Fertility – scanning & pregnancy testing
  • Obstetrics (foalings)
  • Trauma (injuries)
  • Dermatology (skin diseases)
  • Endoscopic examination
  • Access to a full complement of laboratory facilities
  • Basic dentistry
  • Freeze branding

Horse vaccinations 

The following is a recommended vaccination protocol

Horses younger than 12 months:

  • Tetanus from three months of age – two doses, four weeks apart
  • Strangles – From three months of age – three doses two weeks apart
  • Hendra Virus – From four months of age – two doses, three to six week apart, followed by a booster at 6 months and then yearly.

Older than 12 months:

  • Tetanus: Two initial doses four weeks apart and then yearly – then every 5 years
  • Strangles: Three doses, two weeks apart – then yearly
  • Hendra: Two doses, three to six weeks apart, followed by a booster every six months
  • Drenching – stomach tubing & pastes

Sheep + Goats

  • Disease & mortality investigations
  • Parasite monitoring & control
  • Ovine Brucellosis Accreditation
  • Ovine Johnnes Disease Accreditation (MAP programs)
  • Trisolfen supplier

Pigs + Alpaca

  • Nose ring application
  • Castration
  • Worming
  • Foot paring