Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 24 November 2017

Get de-budding of newborn calves going immediately

Seamus and David Scallen, Wicklow Cattle Company, and John Murphy and Eric Driver, Tullow Mart, help launch the calf collection depot at Tullow Mart, which opens every Wednesday from 9.30-11am. For further details, call Eric Driver on 087 7767402, John Murphy on 087 2125275 or Tullow Mart on 059 9151142. The mart can also be contacted via www.tullowmart.ie
Seamus and David Scallen, Wicklow Cattle Company, and John Murphy and Eric Driver, Tullow Mart, help launch the calf collection depot at Tullow Mart, which opens every Wednesday from 9.30-11am. For further details, call Eric Driver on 087 7767402, John Murphy on 087 2125275 or Tullow Mart on 059 9151142. The mart can also be contacted via www.tullowmart.ie

Peadar Ó Scanaill

The beef calves are hitting the ground thick and fast at present. Weather has been generally kind this spring and some calves are bigger than expected at birth.

Beef cows have fared well over the winter and some may have tended to be slightly fat. This brings its own difficulties with the calving process, given the knock-on effect in getting those cows back in calf in early summer.

With the calves on the ground now you must quickly get going with the de-budding and also the blackleg vaccine if appropriate. On the de-budding scene, it's often difficult to organise a beef suckler herd to get all de-budding done at the appropriate time. For some, the buds don't emerge until a few weeks of age, while in others they are discernable almost from birth.

With a scattered birth pattern on a busy suckler farm it can be nigh on impossible to get to do each calf at the optimum time. It then becomes necessary to fix a de-budding day on any particular week. For example, say on a Friday morning you could round up the previous week's calves and de-bud them. Once done, that batch can move one more step away from the busy peri-parturient sheds where the springers and newly calved are kept close to the busy hub of the farm.

At the same time you can also be dealing with the mothers who may have had difficulties during calving. Some older cows with poor feet can now have the legs lifted and the hooves pared. You could not do this during late pregnancy for fear of losing the calf.

Some of these older and lamer cows may go onto the culling list as young replacement heifers are being geared up to start heading for the bull. A fluke dose may be useful at this point to eliminate any remnants of adult fluke that may still be in the livers of the over-wintered adult animals.

Your farm vet can analyse some dung samples for fluke eggs if in any doubt. Such samples are useful to determine how effective last year's fluke programme was. It will also inform if over-wintering fluke has been a factor in maintaining high levels of fluke on the farm over the past few years. Dosing without checking may mean we are over-using our flukecides. That wastes money and adds to the resistance pressure on all of these medicines. So best advice is to check a few dung samples now.

The newly calved herd is now ready for booster vaccines against leptospirosis, BVD and IBR. These are diseases that may cause abortion or early embryonic loss of next year's pregnancies. Vaccinate before you send the now empty cows back to the bull. I say bull, by the way, but in fact we should encourage more and more use of high genetic beef semen to improve the genetics of the national beef herd.

Also Read


Back to BVD, and an on-farm programme should be in place on any productive beef farm for this year. Your veterinary health plan will identify if the disease is already established in the cows. It will set about identifying persistently infected animals that are shedding the disease, keeping the virus alive in the herd. It will also set about vaccinating the cows to prevent disease attack during the next pregnancy. Similarly for IBR, but we must pay extra attention to IBR in the high end of the pedigree beef herds. Some of the calves from these herds may enter a performance test station and must have IBR-free status before doing so. Consult your vet before tackling IBR, especially in those high genetic pedigree herds.

Back to this week's list of things to do:

  • De-bud the calves to avoid any skulling or de-horning later in the calf's life;
  • Cover your blackleg vaccination if the mothers have not been vaccinated in the past six months;
  • Check calving difficulty levels and change bull or AI if necessary for next year's crop;
  • Pare those hooves that could not be touched during this winter's pregnancy;
  • Put the older, poorer cows on the culling list to avoid too high an average age of your beef cows;
  • Do a quick check on the vaccination protocol of IBR/BVD and leptospirosis before the next breeding season;
  • Check some cow dung samples for over-wintered fluke in the livers. Dose accordingly;
  • Check and treat lice before turnout;
  • Don't do a worm dose before turnout, unless for some very specific reason, or a specific farm calls for it;
  • Consider some tail-painting and some heat-detection aids to allow the use of AI to help to improve the genetic merit of the herd.

Peadar Ó Scanaill is a practising vet and is on the Veterinary Ireland Animal Health Committee. Email: HQ@vetireland.ie

Indo Farming