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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Why 40pc of young calf deaths are caused by pneumonia and how to prevent them - top vet

Pictured at the Dairygold Beef Expo in Corrin Mart, Fermoy on animal nutrition, health and live grading of cattle are speakers Liam O'Flaherty, Head of Agribusiness, Dairygold, Joe Burke, Bord Bia, Dr Doreen Corridan, Munster AI, Sean Coffey, CEO Kepak & Niall Griffey, Dairygold Beef Manager. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Pictured at the Dairygold Beef Expo in Corrin Mart, Fermoy on animal nutrition, health and live grading of cattle are speakers Liam O'Flaherty, Head of Agribusiness, Dairygold, Joe Burke, Bord Bia, Dr Doreen Corridan, Munster AI, Sean Coffey, CEO Kepak & Niall Griffey, Dairygold Beef Manager. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Brian Delaney, Kepak is pictured during the live grading of cattle at the Dairygold Beef Expo event in Corrin Mart, Fermoy. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Some 40pc of young cattle deaths are caused by pneumonia, so getting housing facilities spot on is vital according to vet Doreen Corridan.

Apart from the initial treatment costs of the condition, it takes an additional sixty days to finish cattle that were severely sick at some point, all adding to the final cost and taking away from farmer’s margins, the Munster AI vet said.

“It’s all a balancing act between the level of immunity in the animal and the challenge of infection presented,” Doreen told farmers at a recent Dairygold conference.

“Severely sick cattle will take 60 days extra to finish, it all adds to your costs and takes away from the margin.”

Improper housing can dramatically increase the chances of cattle getting pneumonia, she said, adding that good clean housing and plenty of fresh air is crucial to promote animal performance.

“If there’s cobwebs and mould in the shed, more than likely there's a problem with ventilation and this needs to change,” said Doreen, explaining that farmers need to ensure inlets and outlets are adequate, so that there’s enough fresh air in the shed to keep bacteria and viruses to a minimum.

Doreen recommended that inlets should be the length of the shed and for a 500kg animal, a space of 0.1m² for inlets should be provided and twice to four times this for outlets.

“For example, a shed housing 230 animals needs a 23m² outlet running the length of the shed for enough space for air to get out. This bac and v out fast, inadequate air flow.

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Spaced sheeting, should either be moved out from the shed wall or replaced with Yorkshire boarding, which will allow five times more air, Doreen advised at the conference held in Corrin Mart in Fermoy, Co Cork.

Doreen admitted that it is hard to meet the requirements of both the suckler cow and the calf in the one housing unit, but she recommended mechanical ventilation for farmers that were having issues.

“This will turn suckler farming on its head and it’s a cheap to run and cheap to install, costing €1,200 first day,” she said adding that draughts at animal level need to be blocked as well.

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