Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 22 January 2018

Skimping on dosing costs dearly

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Concerned vets have warned cash-strapped farmers not to skimp on routine veterinary treatments in an effort to cut farm costs.

High levels of immature fluke have been noted in slaughtered animals by factory vets, indicating that routine fluke dosing may have been sacrificed by farmers struggling with the fodder and weather crisis.

Vet Arthur O'Connor said colleagues were concerned that some farmers had been tempted to skip routine treatments as a way of saving money.

"We are getting reports of high levels of fluke from the factories, and in particular immature fluke, which would indicate that dosing has not happened," said Mr O'Connor.

Based in Banagher, Co Offaly, Mr O'Connor is also the Veterinary Ireland representative on the Department of Agriculture Farm Animal Welfare and Advisory Council (FAWAC).

The vet warned that if farmers skimped on routine treatments such as dosing and vaccinations, they faced much higher costs in the long term.

"Fluke dosing costs approximately €2.50/cow but if the cow is not dosed, it could cost the farmer €400-500/cow in long-term damage through reduced fertility, longevity, milk yield and damage to other animals in the herd," Mr O'Connor explained.

Similarly, a farmer who decides not to vaccinate against IBR at a cost of €5.50-6/cow risked a "complete disaster", the vet warned.

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"The worst case scenario for a farmer who decides to skip vaccinating for one year is 20 per cent abortions in his herd.

"When you take the cost of cows not being in calf next year, the lost milk production and the lost income from the calves, it adds up to a huge loss."

Mr O'Connor also warned that some farmers were hoping a good summer's grass would be enough to return poor body condition cows to full health.

"We've seen cows calving down at a body condition score of 1.5-2, when they should have calved at a body condition of 2.5-3," he said.

"Farmers need to think about cutting back on stock numbers and supplementing with extra feed to bring those cows back up," Mr O'Connor added.

"Unfortunately, I have seen farmers who are just hoping for the best instead of doing something now. Some of them have their heads stuck in the sand at the moment," he said.

"My message to farmers is that instead of cutting back on routine treatments, maybe they would be better off having one less cow and using the money from her sale to pay for the vaccinations and dosing for the rest of the herd."

Irish Independent