As we edge into winter, the conversations I’m having on farm are turning towards calf pneumonia again. Hopefully the calf housing government grant has helped some of you improve your sheds, but I wonder if housing sometimes gets too much focus when compared to calf resilience. A healthy calf that has had a good start in life is going to suffer significantly less disease compared to its counterpart when housed in the same environment. I’m talking about immunity from colostrum. We can recite the rules around quality, quantity, and timing, but how well are we identifying our farms areas of success and areas for improvement? Is it quality or quantity or timing that’s the limiting factor? Keeping a colostrum record for each calf is really helpful in guiding how best to improve your calves immunity. To make informed decisions on farm, we first need information! If you would like some colostrum recording sheets, just give me a call.
This month has been a busy one, among other things we have been mopping up the last of the PDs in our spring calving beef herds and carrying out whole herd Johnes screening ahead of calving. We are continuing to carry out Animal Health and Welfare Pathway visits – this is time on farm that can be claimed back by farmers currently receiving the Single Farm Payment and can be spent on a huge variety of tasks. Please see https:// apply-for-an-annual-health-and-welfare-review.defra.gov. uk/apply for details of how the scheme works and how to apply.
Most suckler calves are weaned now – growth rates have generally been good this year largely due to consistent grass quality and availability over the latter part of the summer and into autumn. Due to the mild wet weather over October and November though, we are seeing some heavy parasite burdens in first season grazing animals and would recommend faecal egg counts as a monitoring tool as we enter the housing season.
Winter is well and truly upon us. Once the clocks went back the heavens opened, making it a very challenging beginning to the winter for all. We have been busy in the West recently, facing many emergency callouts to challenging calvings in autumn calving herds!
With spring only around the corner, now would be an ideal time to submit forage samples for testing as we prepare for lambing and calving. Knowing the quality of your forage enables you to plan to ensure your forage is meeting the nutritional demands of pregnant ewes and cows, ensuring expensive concentrate supplementation is given at appropriate levels (or even avoided in some cases).
In the past few weeks, we have seen an increase in cases of IBR. Signs of IBR include difficulty breathing, nasal/ ocular discharge, fever, inappetence, milk drop, abortions and death in severe cases. Vaccination is very effective at controlling this disease. If you are thinking about starting an IBR vaccine programme, get in touch with one of the team. For herds already vaccinating, don’t forget the boosters!
This year has flown by and all of sudden we are back into winter routine with darker nights. With Christmas not far away we have just run our annual lamb loss meetings across the regions with this year a focus on abortions as a contributor to lamb losses on farm. Looking into the new year we will have our next 0-6 youngstock meeting, focusing on optimising results from your bulling heifers. Recently, the youngstock team attended CPD on the topic of positive pressure ventilation and how this can improve housing as one of the key areas to help minimise pneumonia on farm. We are now doing visits to discuss improving ventilation in your buildings and if required measure and recommend appropriate changes to help. If you have any questions or concerns about pneumonia on farm, please get in touch to arrange a discussion with your routine vet or the 0-6 Youngstock team.