Labs confirm a dozen dwarf calf outbreaks
Up to a dozen outbreaks of congenital dwarfism, causing dwarf calves, have been observed for the second year in a row in Ireland, the Regional Veterinary Laboratories in the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.
The syndrome has been observed worldwide for the past 30 years, with high numbers recorded in Australia this year.
The laboratories also confirmed six cases of bleeding calf syndrome, more properly called Bovine Neonatal Pancytopaenia, a condition that first emerged in Europe three years ago.
Dwarf or chondrodystrophic calves were identified by Department of Agriculture veterinary labs in Sligo, Athlone and Kilkenny this year. In some cases, up to 25pc of the calves in the herd were affected.
The condition affects long bone development in the calf but is not always fatal. Some dwarf calves survive to be reared commercially, although they remain short-limbed.
Most of the dwarf calves were born to Continental bulls in beef suckler herds, although the Kilkenny laboratory recorded six dwarf calves from one 250-cow Friesian dairy herd and cases born to Brown Swiss-cross heifers crossed with a Friesian bull in another herd.
The occurrence of dwarf calves is believed to be associated with the exclusive feeding of pit silage indoors, coinciding with the first trimester of pregnancy, and many of the cases are only apparent late in the calving period.