Farm Ireland

Friday 19 January 2018

Cattle deaths tumble for fourth year in a row

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

On-farm cattle deaths fell for the fourth year in a row last year, new figures from the Department of Agriculture have revealed.

Some 215,779 cattle died on farms last year, a reduction of 11.6pc on 2010 and a massive 29pc reduction on the 300,779 cattle that died on farms in 2008.

The figures translate into an on-farm mortality rate of 33.2 deaths per 1,000 cattle.

Better summer weather conditions and a mild winter in 2011 are believed to have played a role in the continued upward trend in cattle mortality.

However, veterinary officials in the Department of Agriculture maintain that farmers' increased focus on preventative medicine has also helped.

Sales of veterinary vaccines for farm animals have grown by a staggering 80pc in the past five years, according to the Department.

Higher prices paid for cattle at marts and factories has also heightened awareness of disease prevention among farmers, while they have also become more proactive about culling animals.

The figures were contained in a joint report published by the Department of Agriculture and the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute last week.

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Enteritis or inflammation of the small intestine was the most common cause of death in newborn calves, accounting for 25pc of all deaths in this age group.


Respiratory disease was responsible for one quarter of all deaths in weanlings that were taken for post mortem last year.

Although still extremely high, the figure is actually an improvement on 2010, when 30pc of weanling deaths were as a result of respiratory disease.

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