Farm Ireland

Thursday 17 January 2019

Video: See how this French vet tackles disease prevention on dairy farms

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Tommy Heffernan of Avondale Veterinary Clinic in Arklow recently travelled to France to meet the bagpipe playing, highland cattle owning, vet, Olivier Crenn who has a passion for preventing disease in cows.

Based in Cossé-le-Vivien in north western France, by carrying out what he calls “global visits” on farms, Olivier hopes to reduce reliance on antibiotics at farm level.

I’m interested in medicine, metabolism, nutrition and preventing disease,” Olivier said.

“It’s important to have results. We are scientists. You must put more science into practice. How you can reduce antibiotics is by finding out what is preventing diseases.”

Tommy accompanied Olivier on numerous farm visits where he focused on monitoring cow, heifer and calf health.

On one farm Olivier measures the diet feeding and colostrum level of calves.

“By weighing cows we can measure the growth rate each day. It determines how healthy they are and if they’re hitting their targets,” said Tommy.

On the same farm, Tommy and Olivier examine the milk recording beater next to the rotary parlour, which tells the farmer exactly what type of nutrition a cow needs.

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“If a cow comes in and produces 40 Kilos of milk, we know there’s a diet that supports 28 kilos and she needs a diet of energy and protein to make up the difference of 12 kilos of milk. So this system tells us what she needs,” added Tommy.

While this system attached to the rotary parlour may work well on large farms, Olivier thinks what works well on large farms can also work well on small farms.

Farming Futures, France. from GoldenMeanMedia on Vimeo.

“We can manage a small farm, like a big farm. There’s a place for the two systems. It can be difficult for young people to buy a big farm, so there’s room for family farms and big farms- why not?” said Olivier.

The pair also visited  a farm where a dairy farmer is having a problem with abortions within his dairy herd. Olivier took a blood sample to find out if there are any infectious agents that may be causing the cow to abort her calf.

Olivier also does his best to save a calf who has had a difficult calving and is suffering from respiratory acidosis by giving it sodium bicarbonate in order to restore its breathing back to normal but unfortunately the calf later dies.

Summing up his 48 hours with Olivier, Tommy said that it was an inspiring experience.

“Agriculture needs people like Olivier to change boundaries, do things differently, keep our animals healthy and defend our industry and make sure we’re doing the best job we can do. Anytime you’re around people who are passionate it’s enlightening and inspiring,” said Tommy.

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