Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Schmallenberg virus vaccine calculations

Teagasc veterinary expert John Mee outlined the latest thinking on controlling Schmallenberg during the coming 12 months to farmers concerned about the disease.

There is no way to prevent the midges that carry the disease from infecting animals here and experience from Britain and Europe suggests they will be found on Irish farms again this year.

"The vaccine costs between €3.50-4.00 per dose and must be administered twice in cattle," said Dr Mee.

The vet also indicated that the worst- case scenario in a recent Moorepark study saw no more than 5pc of cows aborting due to the disease, and that the vast majority affected were closer to 1-2pc.

"So a farmer should be able to calculate the value of a loss of 5pc of calves in a worst-case scenario.

"It is trickier to estimate what the fertility and longevity cost is for the cows affected, but again the worst-case scenario suggests that you may end up culling a cow and that she will almost certainly be harder to get in calf again.

"The only thing that this calculation doesn't take into account is the welfare cost of not doing any vaccinations.

"This is unquantifiable but not an insignificant consideration due to the potential for suffering that affected animals are exposed to," added Dr Mee.

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