Many Dairy and Beef producers may ask why it is necessary to test their herd for persistent infection of BVD. After all, they will question, if a Persistently Infected (PI) calf is going to die anyway, won’t things take care of themselves?
Gatelands Farm, near Penrith, is owned and farmed by Andrew and Angela Barraclough and their two children James and Alysha.
It is a 300-acre farm and the business is comprised of 150 milking cows and replacements. In addition to the milk business the family also rears veal calves and fattens cattle for Lake District Farmers, which supplies the best restaurants in London. Most recently its veal has featured in the final of the Great British Menu!
Unlike a human baby which is born with antibodies passed on through the placenta, a new born calf arrives without such protection and relies entirely on colostrum to receive those crucial antibodies.
Farmers want a high lambing percentage to increase profits, but poor planning can lead to poor performance. For success in tupping season, plan for healthy pregnancies: adopt a he
althy nutrition plan and assess the body condition of ewes. This will encourage higher ovulation rates, twin and triplet births, and lower rates of aborted pregnancies.
Throwing down a challenge to beef rearer-finishers, the Scottish Rural University College (SRUC) has reported that cattle killed after 12-15 month of age “eat their own profits”. Based on data from seven abattoirs over 12 years, they found that reducing slaughter age would improve beef profitability, regardless of breed. Savings on feed, bedding and labour costs made significant contributions to the figures.
Whether rearing beef cattle or dairy heifers, maximum weight gain during the low cost grazing season is clearly vital in the current financial climate, according to Zoetis vet Dave Armstrong. “So preventing performance losses due to roundworm burdens, or worse still deaths later in the season due to lungworm, are clearly sensible priorities,” he suggests.
Biosecurity, exotic diseases and supermarket supply chains were at the top of the agenda at the only dedicated one day event for the beef and sheep industry in the UK.
You now have a straightforward way of evaluating the effectiveness of your sheep lameness control strategy, thanks to a useful new flock assessment tool. The practical ‘Lameness Control Planner’ from MSD Animal Health gives you a simple, yet highly visual ‘where are you now’ method of identifying whether your lameness management protocol is unbalanced in any way.
Rainfall has been extreme in some regions whilst the temperatures have rarely been close to seasonal averages. This is summer? As we move through July it looks as though we could be in, nationally, for a poor harvest. Come on.
How to improve the value of dairy-bred beef calves
As a farmer, you already know what makes your business tick. You don’t need us to tell you that optimising the value of each animal is the key to a successful business. But did you know the importance of the first three months in terms of maximising lifetime performance of your dairy-bred reared calves?
Why are the first three months of life so important?
The value of a beef calf is inextricably linked to growth rates and weight. What farmers may not fully appreciate is that reaching target growth rates requires tip-top respiratory health. Calves with lung damage don’t grow as well as they should. And the greater the lung damage, the greater the impact on daily liveweight gain.
Pneumonia is one of the most common calfhood problems. And it’s estimated that 67% of cases affect calves younger than three months old. Calves whose growth has been stunted by lung damage during the first few months of life, may never catch up. The link is clear: respiratory illness means poor growth which means reduced value.
How to improve respiratory health in reared beef calves
There are a few important steps in protecting your calves from respiratory illness:
- It’s important that newborn calves receive sufficient colostrum – which is packed with important antibodies
- Newborn calves should receive at least 10% of their bodyweight within their first twelve hours of life, half of which should ideally be given within two hours of birth
- Receiving sufficient colostrum is as important for bought in calves as it is for home reared ones, arguably more so
- When buying calves from known sources or direct from farm you can check this with the seller.
- The next step is to vaccinate against the common viruses that cause pneumonia in young calves. It’s perhaps one of the most important things you can do for their respiratory wellbeing
- Other key measures include ensuring calf housing is well ventilated, and draught-free, with plenty of dry clean bedding.
- Keeping young calves away from older cows and making sure no more than 30 animals share the same airspace will further reduce the risks.
Taking the time to get the simple things right helps ensure you minimise disease risk, and protect the health of your calves. Best of all, it will have a tangible impact on the lifetime productivity of your animals.
Wynnstay support responsible use of veterinary medicines and stock a large variety of vaccinations in order to improve the potential performance of your calves. Speak to your local SQP in store or local Wynnstay representative for further information and advice.