Cliffe Farm Vets's home page
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Learn more about our range of services

  • Beef and Sheep Health Reviews
  • Dairy Health Reviews
  • Advanced Sheep Breeding
  • Bull and Ram Fertility
  • Cow Fertility
  • Lameness
  • Mastitis
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacy
  • Routine Procedures
  • TB Testing and More
  • Smallholders
  • Responsible Use of Medicines Courses
  • Youngstock
  • Routine Mortality Monitoring
  • Laboratory

Beef and Sheep Health Reviews

What is a health review?

An annual review considers all aspects of herd or flock health and performance, standard operating procedures, and antibiotic usage in order to improve farm productivity. We aim to identify mutually agreed targets/changes that you want to achieve in the subsequent year. The reviews are Red Tractor compliant and we provide concise documentation following each review.

The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway funding can be used to conduct these reviews with some disease testing required. £520 can be claimed for beef farmers with 11 or more suckler cows to put towards this process. Sheep farmers can claim £436.

What is involved?

To arrange a health review, please contact the practice and you will be sent a data collection form to complete. This involves a herd or flock calendar, production figures and mortality data for the previous year.  At a time convenient to you, we will organise a farm visit to discuss the data provided, and all aspects of health, welfare, and productivity on the farm. The reviews are performed annually. 

We discuss any aspects of animal health and performance including nutrition, parasite control, fertility, infectious disease control, quarantine protocols and grazing management.  We are lead by you and will tailor the review to your requirements.

Review documentation in the format required by farm assurance schemes or other regulatory bodies can be created for any farm enterprise.

Dairy Health Reviews

Dairy Health Reviews

The diary health review is an annual appraisal of the dairy enterprise. We look at all aspects of health and production, including a review of medicine and antibiotic usage.

We analyse all aspects of:

  • Bulk milk tank screening and infectious disease
  • Lameness
  • Mastitis
  • Fertility
  • Nutrition
  • Transition cow management
  • Youngstock and calf tracker program
  • Production and costings
  • Population
  • Responsible antibiotic usage

Advanced Sheep Breeding

Cliffe Advanced Sheep Breeding

Nick has been inseminating and flushing ewes since 2017 and performs these procedures across the UK for Cliffe Farm Vets and other providers.

We have an onsite clinic and laboratory in Laughton (BN8 6AJ) for insemination and flushing of small numbers of ewes, and for semen collection, freezing, and storage.

We can cryogenically freeze excess embryos on-farm or in-clinic and store them for future use.

ET and AI also reduces disease risk as it is easier to maintain a truly “closed flock.”

Please email for further information and for prices.

Embryo Transfer (ET)

Embryo transfer allows the amplification of high genetic potential maternal traits from donor ewes. The ET programme requires a synchronisation protocol for both donors and recipients. Donor ewes are artificially inseminated laparoscopically, and embryos are flushed 5-6 days later. The flushing process is a small surgical procedure performed under general anaesthesia where the uterus is exteriorised and fertilised embryos are retrieved, examined, and implanted into programmed recipient ewes or frozen.

Ewes that are unable to hold or rear their own lambs can be flushed and recipient ewes can carry and rear the lambs.

The average flush (allowing for semen quality, age, breed, and time of year) would yield approximately 7-8 viable embryos, but we will occasionally flush in excess of 30 from one ewe.  Recipient ewes may be implanted with singles or twins depending on the number of embryos flushed and owner preference. Approximately 85-90% of implanted recipient ewes will hold at least one embryo.

The cost of flushing a ewe and implanting her embryos will vary between £320 to £700 depending on the number of embryos flushed. There are other costs associated with medication for synchronisation of recipient ewes (CIDRs/sponges and PMSG)- with approx. cost being £6.50 per ewe.

A full price list is available on request.

Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination (AI)

Synchronisation and AI of ewes allows for a compact lambing with uniform lambs and a reduction in labour costs.

Following a synchronisation protocol, ewes are sedated and fresh or frozen semen is deposited directly into the uterine horns under visualisation with a laparoscope. This enables one high value ram to serve many synchronised ewes or for high genetic merit semen to be purchased to improve flock genetics. The complex anatomy of the ewes cervix means that cervical AI (like cows) is not successful when using frozen semen. The procedure is minimally invasive and quick. On average, conception rates of 60-70% are expected from frozen semen, and 90%+ from fresh semen.

Embryo Freezing

If there is an excess of embryos (or not enough recipient ewes) Grade 1&2 embryos may be frozen to thaw and implant at a later date. 

Ewes and/or ewe lambs that are not in lamb can be programmed out of season, to allow a higher number of embryos from an individual ewe to be implanted the following season.

These embryos can be traded within the UK.

Semen Processing

Rams can be assessed for breeding soundness and semen can be collected, processed, frozen in pellets and stored for insurance or commercial purposes. Semen can be shipped elsewhere within the UK if your stocks have been sold to other breeders.

Bull and Ram Fertility

Why test my bulls and rams and what's involved?

A routine pre-breeding soundness examination is important to assess the fertility of your male stock prior to mating to ensure appropriate ratios of males to females, compact calving/lambing periods, and high conception rates. We can also assess semen in cases of suspect infertility.

Examination of internal (bulls only) and external genitalia are performed together with a full health check. Ram MOTs are performed and those suspect or older rams selected for semen evaluation. Bulls are routinely evaluated via semen assessment. Semen is collected on-farm using an electro-ejaculator, and assessed for density and motility immediately with a heated microscope in a fully mobile laboratory.

Further analysis is performed back at the laboratory, and a report, if required, can be issued within 1-3 days.

Ram Vasectomies

The “ram effect” can be used to synchronise groups of ewes and to advance the natural breeding season by a few weeks.  Using vasectomised teaser rams before tupping will ensure that this effect is optimised.  We can perform teaser surgery either on farm, or on prearranged teaser clinic dates at Cliffe Equine.

Cow Fertility

Cow Fertility and AI Services

We do fertility visits for both dairy and beef clients.

Ultrasound scanners are used for individual cow pregnancy testing and assessment of ovarian function. Pregnancy testing can be performed from 30 days onwards.

For dairy cows the advantages of routine fertility visits are:

  • Vaginal checks post-calving to check for metritis and treat if necessary.
  • Assessing ovarian function of non-cycling cows to enable targeted treatment.
  • Pregnancy diagnosis from 30 days. Early detection of empty cows allows for earlier intervention, reducing the calving interval.
  • Opportunity for routine discussion and development of mating plans.

For beef cows the advantages of pregnancy diagnosis are:

  • Allowing a more accurate prediction of calving dates.
  • Identifying empty cows at an earlier stage.
  • Allowing earlier intervention in cases of infertility.

AI services

We offer a synchronization and AI service to beef and diary clients. This is a set priced synchronization including insertion of hormonal devices, AI and pregnancy diagnosis. Please get in touch for further details.


Investigation and Treatment

Lameness is a major welfare issue on both dairy and sheep farms in the UK.  Cliffe Farm Vets can help you to troubleshoot flock and herd lameness problems and develop farm-specific plans.

  • Individual cases diagnosed, trimmed, and treated
  • Cattle herd investigations
  • Sheep flock investigations
  • Mobility Scoring
  • Advice on footbath treatments
  • Action plans for flock and herd level disease


Prevention and control of Mastitis

Prevention and control of mastitis, both clinical and subclinical, is an important element in improving dairy farm productivity, health and welfare.

We can help by:

  • Culturing selected individual milk samples to investigate the cause of the mastitis or elevated cell counts
  • Culturing of bulk milk samples to get a view of the infection at herd level
  • Accessing NMR/farm records and using Interherd+ to help recognise patterns of disease
  • Teat scoring
  • Advice on suitability of buildings used for housing livestock eg ventilation requirements, stocking rates etc

Mastitis investigations

Bill Pepper and Carmen Pengelly are trained AHDB Dairy Mastitis Control Plan deliverers. Analysis of mastitis and cell count data, laboratory investigations, on farm observations and information gathering will establish the underlying causes of mastitis problems on problem farms.

All information is collated to provide a farm-specific set of practical recommendations.


Dairy and Beef Cows

If we are concerned about a nutrition related health issue, we will liaise with your nutritionist to rectify any situation. We will perform an on farm assessment of the cows.

We will consider

  • Diet and ration,
  • Forage stocks and storage,
  • Rumen fill and rumen function,
  • Body condition scores,
  • Dung consistency,
  • Feed space and other nutrition related issues.
  • If necessary blood samples can be taken for metabolic profiles that will assess “what the cow thinks” of the ration and transition from dry period to lactation.
  • Bloods are submitted to the Dairy Herd Health and Productivity Service (DHHPS) at the University of Edinburgh.

We can interpret this information with other data from software programmes such as Interherd+.  This data allows us to assess the rations fed to the cows, and working together with your nutritional advisor, we can help to optimise nutrition and improve the productivity of your cows.


The two points in the sheep calendar when nutrition is most important, are pre-tupping and pre-lambing.

Pre-tupping we are aiming for ewes in good body condition and this starts by managing ewes correctly at weaning.  Ewe fertility and scanning percentage will be affected by nutrition and trace element deficiencies .  We can blood sample ewes to establish the mineral and health status of the ewes.

Pre-lambing it is important to get the energy and protein nutrition right to ensure not just a viable lamb with a good birth weight but also good quality and quantity colostrum to be produced by the ewe.  With the focus on reducing antibiotic usage, particularly around lambing time, adequate quality and quantity of colostrum is paramount; and this starts with optimal nutrition.

We offer ration planning tailored to your forage analysis.  Forage quality is very variable year to year, and we can calculate the concentrate requirements to optimise ewe nutrition and prevent expensive over feeding.  We can condition score and blood sample single, twin, and triplet bearing ewes, 2-3 weeks prior to lambing. Metabolic profiling can also be performed and rations can be adjusted based on the results.


Prescribing of medicines

We have an extensive pharmacy at our Lewes site and receive daily deliveries from a national veterinary wholesaler.

Where necessary, all prescription only medicines (POM-V) are available to animals under our care. Other general sales medicines (POM-VPS) such as wormers and fly treatments are also available at competitive prices. If the medicines you require are not on the shelf then we can order them for you to have the next day. Advice on correct and responsible use of veterinary medicines in food producing animals will be given.

A prescribing visit is required annually to inspect stock and discuss medicine usage to ensure that we abide by the legal prescribing requirements.

We require that all drug requests are ordered at least 3 hours before collection wherever possible. This is in order to satisfy the legally required record keeping of all medicines being dispensed, the labelling requirements, and the veterinary authorisation of each sale.

Medicines can be transferred to Cliffe Equine for collection. When collecting vaccines and other fridge items ensure that you have appropriate cool bags for transportation.

Vets may prescribe medication ‘off-licence’, this is where a medicine is used in a species it is not licenced for, or for a condition not stated on the data sheet. Vets or administration staff may request you complete a form to provide consent in this situation.

Routine Procedures

Vet carrying our routine procedure on cow's ear

Livestock tasks

Routine livestock management tasks performed on farm includes:

  • Castration
  • Knock-down disbudding
  • Dehorning
  • Ringing bulls
  • Supernumerary teat removal
  • AI
  • Embryo transfer
  • Pregnany scanning
  • Ovary scanning
  • Vasectomies
  • Worming and vaccination
  • Exports and certification

TB Testing and More

TB Testing and More

All our farm vets are registered as Official Veterinarians (OVs) which qualifies them to perform most DEFRA tasks on behalf of the Government.

We are situated close to an area of the South Downs that has been associated with Tuberculosis in cattle and wildlife for many years. East Sussex is now considered to be an Edge area zone with annual TB testing of all cattle, as well as radial testing around breakdown farms.

Private TB testing before movement or sale of cattle can be arranged by appointment.

Other compulsory testing for notifiable diseases are carried out by our OVs eg Anthrax testing in cases of sudden death, and Brucellosis testing in cases of multiple abortion in cattle.

From 1st May 2015 all TB testing and other Official Veterinarian (OV) work in England has been provided by five regional suppliers, who are responsible for allocating local vets and ensuring testing is carried out to a high standard.

Farmcare Central was awarded the contract to be the service provider in our region. Cliffe Veterinary Group is a shareholder in this company and is also a supplier of official veterinary services to XL Farmcare South East Ltd.

Export certification can be arranged.

Advice on current, local notifiable disease issues eg FMD, Avian Influenza and Bluetongue is available from the practice.


No Farm too Small

It is not uncommon to have either pigs or poultry kept in the garden, either as pets or to provide for the table. They are regularly treated as a pet in the same fashion as either a dog or cat would be and often cared for to the same extent. However from the point of the veterinary medicines they are seen as farm animals and hence will be treated by one of our farm animal vets.

Pigs: Licensing

If considering getting pigs there are a few legal issues that need to be addressed. Pigs are classed as livestock whether they are pets or part of a commercial enterprise and as such, a premises with one on is required to have a County Parish Holding number (CPH) which can be obtained from the Rural Payments Agency. When acquiring the animal, either an AML2 form or an individual movement license document should be completed to register the movement of the animal, both of which should be provided by the seller (can be found on the Animal health/Defra website). On arrival you have 1 month in which to inform Animal Health that the animal is present on the site whilst at the same time no other pigs, cattle, sheep or goats may be moved on or off the site for 20, 6, 6 and 6 days respectively.

It should be noted that if you want to take your pig for a walk you must obtain a ‘Pig Walking License’, which will require details of a planned route and can be applied for through a DEFRA veterinary officer.

Pigs: Health and Welfare

Pigs are social animals and often do better in small groups as opposed to alone. They will require a large exercise run along with shelter. Remember they are naturally diggers and will forage for food. This behaviour can see them easily digging under many a fence and as such, solid boundaries need to be put in.

Pigs generally have voracious appetites and as such are very prone to obesity, which is their most common problem. Obesity will lead to further medical problems including arthritis, pressure sores and skin fold infections. They should be fed a specially formulated diet and in addition to this given vegetables (avoiding starchy ones such as potatoes) to make up about 25% of the diet. It is illegal to feed your pig scraps from the kitchen table.

A variety of vaccines are available for pigs although the one that is most essential is that for Erysipelas (a bacterial disease leading to sudden death and characteristic skin lesions). This is an initial course 2 injections followed by 6-monthly boosters.

Other general considerations include worming, which should be done every 4-6 months. We will be able to advise you on a suitable wormer. Unless wanted for breeding, male pigs it is recommended to castrate male pigs at 10 days of age. Pigs will usually reach puberty at around 4 months of age, the exception being Vietnamese Pot Bellied pigs who reach puberty earlier at 2 months of age. The average life span of a pig is 8 years.

Chickens: Licensing

Chickens, unlike pigs do not necessarily require registration provided the flock is less than 50 birds strong. That said, DEFRA recommend registration on a voluntary basis so as to enable owners to be alerted in the event of a disease outbreak.

If you have an excess of eggs, providing you have less than 50 birds you may sell them door to door without registering with the Egg Marketing Inspectorate (EMI). However, should you wish to sell them to a shopkeeper for further distribution you will need to have registered.

Information from DEFRA

Chickens: Health and Welfare

When kept outside poultry should be kept in a coop or inside in a shed. They should have a minimum of 250 cm2 floor space per bird, a perch, an exercise run and a nesting box all of which will require cleaning and fresh bedding every week. It is important to ensure that the birds are free from the threat of predators, commonly in the form of foxes. It is  also important to shut the chickens into their coop at night and that the coop is checked to ensure it is secure.

Chickens should be offered proprietary chicken pellets ad lib. Be sure to purchase the correct type, for example layers pellets as opposed to growers pellets for laying hens. Also essential is the provision of grit, tiny stones which help the birds break down and digest their food. In addition corn can also be provided.

Three hens are usually enough to provide a household with enough eggs although it should be remembered that laying will be more prolific during the summer months with more daylight hours.

Stress is a common problem seen with chickens and can be due to a variety of factors including poor temperature control, movement, poor nutrition, changes in environment, parasites and physical disturbances such as noise. Stressed animals produce less eggs and are more susceptible to disease and other problems such as feather plucking. As such, it is important to ensure the correct environment and that any changes are made gradually.

Another common problem seen in chickens is mites which can cause significant disease.Signs to watch out for are loss of feathers, restless birds, loss of condition, pale comb, drop in egg production, presence of grey to red mites and itching of the person handling the chickens. Treatment entails medication of individuals and environmental control (housing).

Before Starting the Small Holding

Whether thinking about getting pigs or poultry it is advisable to consult us beforehand so as to be able to ensure that suitable housing and feed can be provided from the day of arrival. We will also be able to help you decide on what worming treatments and vaccinations will be most appropriate for your individual situation.

Responsible Use of Medicines Courses

Responsible Use of Medicines Courses

We offer several courses throughout the year on responsible medicine usage in agriculture. Courses are available for our beef and sheep clients which comply with Red Tractor requirement AM.3.1.a whereby one person who is responsible for administering medicines has undertaken training and holds a certificate of competence or training attendance certificate. These courses discuss responsible antibiotic usage, pain relief, responsible worming, correct administration of medicines, handling medicines, storing medicines, avoiding residues and recording requirements.

For our dairy clients we offer BCVA Milksure training. Carmen Pengelly and Nick Pile are Milksure accredited vets offering part 1 group training sessions through-out the year and on-farm part 2 sessions. The course covers routine milk testing procedures, awareness of antibiotic risk in milk and risk based approaches to safe guard your tanks. Milk buyers may insist on participation following a bulk milk tank failure.



We provide bespoke advice on calf rearing and suckler calf care, including monitoring through the Calf Tracker scheme. This includes total protein screens, routine weighing, data analysis and calf scoring.

Check out our knock down disbuds service. This is at set prices, enabling large groups of calves to be disbudded and castration stress-free in a short space of time.

We are MSD trained and can offer thoracic ultrasound to monitor calf lung health and provide prognosis.

Routine Mortality Monitoring

Routine Mortality Monitoring

If you have livestock, you have deadstock; there’s no getting around it. Routine mortality monitoring is where deadstock can receive a post-mortem examination at one of two fallen stock yards. Simply because an animal has died does not mean important information cannot be harvested which may shine light on herd/flock problems that would otherwise go unnoticed. These animals often provide an important insight into problems which, once addressed, can increase productivity whether that be scanning percentage, young stock growth rates or milk production.

The routine mortality monitoring service is a monthly subscription based on the number of breeding animals with a discount available for flock and beef club members. Single animal post-mortems can be performed with a discount available for batch post-mortems.


Where we test your animal’s samples

Our dedicated lab technician, Sam Fry performs many routine tests in our in-house laboratory, offering you a quick turnaround on results.

In house tests include:

  • Routine biochemistry and haematology (blood tests)
  • Downer cow profiles (blood).
  • Worm egg and coccidial oocyst counts.
  • Calf scour screening.
  • Metabolic profiles of ewes pre-lambing
  • Examination of skin scraping for external parasites

External lab tests include:

  • Milk bacteriology
  • Respiratory disease virology/bacteriology
  • Serology for infectious disease, eg. BVD, Johne’s IBR etc.
  • Trace element profiles
  • Histopathology following gross post mortem
  • Abortion investigations
  • Dairy herd metabolic profiles
  • Accreditation for Premium Health Schemes

Veterinary interpretation with recommendation of treatments via telephone or email is always carried out.  Any tests that are not available in-house are couriered to an external laboratory. We have a daily collection from Lewes, ensuring samples are processed as soon as possible.

Faecal Egg Counts

Given the rapid development of anthelmintic (wormer) resistance in sheep and cattle worms, we encourage the use of faecal egg counts to determine the need for worming.  We will identify which species types are present and at what level.  Interpretation of the results will require an in depth history of your farming system, previous treatments, pasture management, age and number of stock.  Pre- and post-dosing egg counts can be performed to investigate the development of anthelmintic resistance.

To submit a faecal egg count please

  • submit a teaspoon of faeces from 10 randomly sampled animals in each group of interest
  • keep samples separate so that we can mix them accurately
  • ensure samples are as fresh as possible; i.e. within 12 hours, or if left overnight keep them in the fridge
  • bring a detailed history of the animals sampled or complete a submission form
  • ensure samples are presented in a clean and hygienic fashion
  • samples may be submitted by post using the submission form

We are strong advocates of the SCOPS and COWS principles for worming management.

Our Health Clubs