Tackling disease threat vital to cutting herd's empty cow rate
At this time of year, farmers like to get a full picture of the reproductive status of their herds. Be it a suckler or dairy cow, empty cows dictate the number of replacements required for next year. Unfortunately, the empty rate on many farms visited this autumn has been more than 15pc.
High empty rates in cows can be explained by various factors including:
- Calving difficulty;
- Health problems.
We can identify cows which have undergone embryo or foetal death by scanning. In addition, farmers will see cows abort pregnancies. These issues include:
- Increasing the empty rate;
- Reducing the opportunity to sell in-calf heifers;
- Prompting farmers to investigate the reasons behind foetal death.
Diseases associated with loss of pregnancies include:
- Johne's Disease.
The impact of any one of these diseases on overall reproductive performance can be devastating.
Animal Health Ireland is putting together an excellent programme of education to help manage and prevent an outbreak of these diseases. A lot of confusion, mis-information and poor implementation of vaccination programmes exist at farm level. You first need to identify if a risk of disease exists on your farm. Pooled milk or blood samples will identify if there has been a disease challenge in your herd. Depending on the severity of the disease challenge, a vaccination programme may be warranted.
Leptospirosis is present on more than 90pc of Irish farms. It causes both early embryonic death and is associated with abortion in cows. Most of our clients vaccinate against this disease. Symptoms of the disease include milk drop, high temperatures, irregular repeats and abortion.
BVD and IBR are currently the two most topical diseases associated with poor health and reproductive performance of cows. The symptoms of IBR include discoloured nasal discharge, milk drop, high temperature, rapid weight loss, increased incidence pneumonia and poor pregnancy rates. The symptoms of BVD include many of the above plus an increased diarrhoea incidence.