Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Weanlings in good condition

Mary Kinston

The majority of farmers are happy with the size and conditions of weanling heifers, as the shortage of silage led to many feeding concentrates to weanlings over the winter.

This is especially true where high protein meals of >19pc crude protein or straight concentrates (eg, soya bean meal) were used to encourage growth.

With the dry weather, many of these weanlings have now been let out to grass which will enhance liveweight gain, and provide the opportunity to gain 50-60kg by the start of mating.

However, do not forget the impact of liver and rumen fluke.

Dermot Heany from Navan, Co Meath was being very diligent in 2012 by taking a number of dung samples to assess the parasite status of his weanlings. All tests before housing failed to pick up the presence of rumen fluke.

But after weighing the stock at housing and again eight weeks later, he found the stock had just minimal liveweight gain.

Dung samples then indicated rumen fluke, and he has since dosed with Zanil.

Dermot admits to being frustrated by the situation, particularly since he tested for rumen fluke last year.

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The problem has resulted in heifers being slightly behind target at an average 220kg.

Dung samples are a useful measure of parasite problems.

However, they are very specific and ideal in identifying the cause of the problem but they are not highly sensitive and can miss the occurrence of the condition.

Using visual analysis, weighing, repeated dung samples and milk testing (for cows) are among the steps that should be taken to identify the problem.

Irish Independent