Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

Respiratory disease still biggest weanlings killer

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Respiratory infections continue to be the most significant cause of death among weanlings in Ireland, accounting for almost a third of all weanling deaths north and south of the Border.

The figures from the Department of Agriculture regional veterinary labs show that Clostridial disease was the second most common cause of weanling deaths in the North, while it accounted for 6.3pc of deaths in the Republic.

The BVD virus was detected in 31 weanling carcasses in Ireland last year, as well as 23 adult cattle.

The figures also reflect an increasing awareness among vets and farmers of the role of laboratory examination in diagnosis, prevention and treatment of animal disease.

As a result of this swing to preventative approaches to veterinary issues at farm level, there has been an explosion in the demand for clinical laboratory examinations of fallen animals since 2007.

In the last four years, there has been a two-and-a-half fold increase in submissions of clinical diagnostic samples. In the last year alone, the regional labs recorded a staggering 48pc increase in samples, with farmers and vets submitting 143,947 specimens.

Regional vet labs also processed a total of 9,396 carcasses last year, representing an increase of 39.7pc in submission numbers since 2007.

The same trend is evident in Northern Ireland, where the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute's (AFBI) veterinary laboratories processed a further 5,937 carcasses last year, reflecting an increase of 32.5pc in submission numbers during the same period.

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The AFBI labs also processed a total of 103,811 clinical diagnostic samples, an increase of 77.6pc on 2007.

The data from the labs show that there is a wide range of diagnoses for causes of death in adult cattle, including respiratory disease, clostridial disease, circulatory infection and abscesses.

The full report is available on-line at

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