Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Sudocream works a treat on the calves after dehorning

Comfort: Good housing will help prevent conditions such as pneumonia in calves
Comfort: Good housing will help prevent conditions such as pneumonia in calves
Calves have been healthy and lively on John Joyce's farm. Stock photo.
Calving is nearly finished. File photo.
John Joyce

John Joyce

The last week has been focused on getting the cattle and cows out to grass. There will be a number of animals left inside. The 10 remaining cows left to calf will stay inside as it is easier to observe them. They should all be calved by the early days of May.

In addition to the in-calf cows, there is batch of forward beef bullocks that will be left on their high meal diet and be finished out of the shed in May. I am not going to turn these out to grass as they are too near being finished and I would run the risk of them going backwards for a few weeks if the weather turns cold and wet.

It is great to see the sheds emptying out and the feeding coming to an end, albeit it has not been too hard a winter.

With the calving nearly finished I am very happy with the way it progressed, with no major incidents. A serious effort has been put into getting the calves' debudded before they are let outside. It is easier on both man and beast, as once let out to grass with their mothers, calves can get strong quite quickly and even with all the best intentions the job can sometimes be left on the long finger.

The new dehorning crate that I bought a number of years ago is a great job and makes the task a lot easier. This is a heavy duty crate targeted for the suckler calf with a rump bar and a belly support. This way the calf is fully restrained and safe.

The dehorn itself is a hand-held gas device and works off a refilled cylinder. It's robustly made with its own ignition and heats to about 700 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Again, I find this machine handy and safe as there are no cables or gas bottle. The debudding of the calves is one job I like to see done right.

After I have the calf debudded I fill the horn bud with sudocream as it is an antiseptic cream. Yes you did read correctly, I first saw this on a farm walk and decided to try it myself. It works great by cooling the head and it stays in place for a few days stopping the wind from affecting the head on these windy April days.

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Also with the later calvers in May it stops the flies from landing on the wound as I think they are afraid will get stuck in it. All you need is an old pin knife and at large tub of the cream.

We always buy a batch of heifer weanlings at the end of the year and again this spring I notice a few of them that were clearly badly dehorned and growing little butts. This is very disappointing as they are lovely stock and have good star ratings that would be suitable for breeding.

On turnout all cattle from weanlings to cows are injected with copper as the farm has a copper deficiency. The cows are given 6mls and the weanling 4mls. There seems to be a great responds to it and it is not too expensive.

The younger stocks' hair coat seem to shed quickly and the fertility of the cows has also greatly improved as copper deficiency can have a knock-on effect on fertility.

Also, any animals missing tags have been tagged on turnout as I hope not to have them in the yard again for a while.

One disappointment is the DNA tags for the BDGP 2017 have not arrived in the post yet as I expected. It would have been handy to have received them before turnout as it just means bring the stock back in to tag the animals. This just creates an extra work load on farms when help or labour is at a premium.

For 2018 there is no reason why these tags cannot be printed and on farms by February at the latest.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

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